What Saith the Scripture?


Phila delphia > Lectures on SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY by Charles G. Finney (page 5 of 11)

Lectures On Systematic Theology


Page 5

Charles G. Finney

A Voice from the Philadelphian Church Age

  Wisdom is Justified

by Charles Grandison Finney


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LECTURE XXXIX. -- Moral Depravity--Continued.
Proper method of accounting for the universal and total moral depravity of the unregenerate moral agents of our race . . Moral depravity consists in selfishness, or in the choice of self-interest, self-gratification, or self-indulgence, as an end . . Dr. Wood's view of physical and moral depravity examined . . Standards of the Presbyterian Church examined

LECTURE XL. -- Moral Depravity--Continued.
Further examination of the arguments adduced in support of the position that human nature is in itself sinful

LECTURE XLI. -- Moral Depravity--Continued.
The proper method of accounting for moral depravity . . Pres. Edwards's views examined . . Summary of the truth on this subject . . Remarks

LECTURE XLII. -- Regeneration.
The common distinction between regeneration and conversion . . I am to state the assigned reasons for this distinction . . I am to state the objections to this distinction . . What regeneration is not . . What regeneration is . . The universal necessity of regeneration . . Agencies employed in regeneration . . Instrumentalities employed in the work . . In regeneration the subject is both passive and active . . What is implied in regeneration

LECTURE XLIII. -- Regeneration--Continued.
Philosophical theories of regeneration . . The different theories of regeneration examined . . Objections to the taste scheme . . The divine efficiency scheme . . Objections to the divine efficiency . . The susceptibility scheme . . Theory of a divine moral suasion . . Objections to this theory . . Remarks

LECTURE XLIV. -- Regeneration--Continued.
Evidences of regeneration . . Introductory remarks . . Wherein the experience and outward life of saints and sinners may agree . . Remarks

LECTURE XLV. -- Regeneration--Continued.
Wherein saints and sinners or deceived professors must differ

LECTURE XLVI. -- Regeneration--Continued.
In what saints and sinners differ . . What is it to overcome the world? . . Who are those that overcome the world? . . Why do believers overcome the world?

LECTURE XLVII. -- Regeneration--Continued.
Wherein saints and sinners differ

This lecture was typed in by Bob Borer.



VIII. Let us consider the proper method of accounting for the universal and total moral depravity of the unregenerate moral agents of our race.

In the discussion of this subject, I will--

1. Endeavour to show how it is not to be accounted for.

2. How it is to be accounted for.

In examining this part of the subject, it is necessary to have distinctly in view, that which constitutes moral depravity. All the error that has existed upon this subject, has been founded in false assumptions in regard to the nature or essence of moral depravity. It has been almost universally true, that no distinction has been made between moral and physical depravity; and consequently, physical depravity has been confounded with and treated of, as moral depravity. This of course has led to vast confusion and nonsense upon this subject. Let the following facts, which have been shown in former lectures, be distinctly borne in mind.

That moral depravity consists in selfishness, or in the choice of self-interest, self-gratification, or self-indulgence, as an end.

Consequently it cannot consist,

(1.) In a sinful constitution, or in a constitutional appetency or craving for sin. This has been shown in a former lecture, on what is not implied in disobedience to the moral law.

(2.) Moral depravity is sin itself, and not the cause of sin. It is not something prior to sin, that sustains to it the relation of a cause, but it is the essence and the whole of sin.

(3.) It cannot be an attribute of human nature, considered simply as such, for this would be physical, and not moral depravity.

(4.) Moral depravity is not then to be accounted for by ascribing it to a nature or constitution sinful in itself. To talk of a sinful nature, or sinful constitution, in the sense of physical sinfulness, is to ascribe sinfulness to the Creator, who is the author of nature. It is to overlook the essential nature of sin, and to make sin a physical virus, instead of a voluntary and responsible choice. Both sound philosophy and the Bible, make sin to consist in obeying the flesh, or in the spirit of self-pleasing, or self-indulgence, or, which is the same thing, in selfishness--in a carnal mind, or in minding the flesh. But writers on moral depravity have assumed, that moral depravity was distinct from, and the cause of sin, that is, of actual transgression. They call it original sin, indwelling sin, a sinful nature, an appetite for sin, an attribute of human nature, and the like. We shall presently see what has led to this view of the subject.

I will, in the next place, notice a modern, and perhaps the most popular view of this subject, which has been taken by any late writer, who has fallen into the error of confounding physical and moral depravity. I refer to the prize essay of Dr. Woods, of Andover, Mass. He defines moral depravity to be the same as "sinfulness." He also, in one part of his essay, holds and maintains, that it is always and necessarily, voluntary. Still, his great effort is to prove that sinfulness or moral depravity, is an attribute of human nature. It is no part of my design to expose the inconsistency of holding moral depravity to be a voluntary state of mind, and yet a natural attribute, but only to examine the philosophy, the logic, and theology of his main argument. The following quotation will show the sense in which he holds moral depravity to belong to the nature of man. At page 54 he says:--

"The word depravity, relating as it here does to man's moral character, means the same as sinfulness, being the opposite of moral purity, or holiness. In this use of the word there is a general agreement. But what is the meaning of native, or natural? Among the variety of meanings specified by Johnson, Webster, and others, I refer to the following, as relating particularly to the subject before us.

"Native. Produced by nature. Natural, or such as is according to nature; belonging by birth; original. Natural has substantially the same meaning: 'produced by nature; not acquired.'--So Crabbe. 'Of a person we say, his worth is native, to designate it as some valuable property born with him, not foreign to him, or ingrafted upon him; but we say of his disposition, that it is natural, as opposed to that which is acquired by habit.' And Johnson defines nature to be 'the native state or properties of any thing, by which it is discriminated from others.' He quotes the definition of Boyle; 'Nature sometimes means what belongs to a living creature at its nativity, or accrues to it by its birth, as when we say a man is noble by nature, or a child is naturally froward.' 'This,' he says, 'may be expressed by saying, the man was born so.'

"After these brief definitions, which come to nearly the same thing, I proceed to inquire, what are the marks or evidences which show anything in man to be natural, or native; and how far these marks are found in relation to depravity."

Again, page 66, he says:--

"The evil, then, cannot be supposed to originate in any unfavourable external circumstances, such as corrupting examples, or insinuating and strong temptations; for if we suppose these entirely removed, all human beings would still be sinners. With such a moral nature as they now have, they would not wait for strong temptations to sin. Nay, they would be sinners in opposition to the strongest motives to the contrary. Indeed, we know that human beings will turn those very motives which most powerfully urge to holiness, into occasions of sin. Now, does not the confidence and certainty with which we foretell the commission of sin, and of sin unmixed with moral purity, presuppose a full conviction in us, and a conviction resting upon what we regard as satisfactory evidence, that sin, in all its visible actings, arises from that which is within the mind itself, and which belongs to our very nature as moral beings? Have we not as much evidence that this is the case with moral evil, as with any of our natural affections or bodily appetites?"

This quotation, together with the whole argument, shows that he considers moral depravity to be an attribute of human nature, in the same sense that the appetites and passions are.

Before I proceed directly to the examination of his argument, that sinfulness, or moral depravity, is an "attribute of human nature," I would premise, that an argument, or fact, that may equally well consist with either of two opposing theories, can prove neither. The author in question presents the following facts and considerations in support of his great position, that moral depravity, or sinfulness, is an attribute of human nature; and three presidents of colleges endorse the soundness and conclusiveness of the argument. He proves his position--

(1.) From the "universality of moral depravity." To this I answer, that this argument proves nothing to the purpose, unless it be true, and assumed as a major premise, that whatever is universal among mankind, must be a natural attribute of man as such; that whatever is common to all men, must be an attribute of human nature. But this assumption is a begging of the question. Sin may be the result of temptation; temptation may be universal, and of such a nature as uniformly, not necessarily, to result in sin, unless a contrary result be secured by a Divine moral suasion. This I shall endeavour to show is the fact. This argument assumes, that there is but one method of accounting for the universality of human sinfulness. But this is the question in debate, and is not to be thus assumed as true.

Again: Selfishness is common to all unregenerate men. Is selfishness a natural attribute? We have seen, in a former lecture, that it consists in choice. Can choice be an attribute of human nature?

Again: This argument is just as consistent with the opposite theory, to wit, that moral depravity is selfishness. The universality of selfishness is just what might be expected, if selfishness consists in the committal of the will to the gratification of self. This will be a thing of course, unless the Holy Spirit interpose, greatly to enlighten the intellect, and break up the force of habit, and change the attitude of the will, already, at the first dawn of reason, committed to the impulses of the sensibility. If moral depravity is to be accounted for, as I shall hereafter more fully show, by ascribing it to the influence of temptation, or to a physically depraved constitution, surrounded by the circumstances in which mankind first form their moral character, or put forth their first moral choices, universality might of course be expected to be one of its characteristics. This argument, then, agreeing equally will with either theory, proves neither.

(2.) His second argument is, that "Moral depravity developes itself in early life." Answer--

(i.) This is just what might be expected upon the opposite theory. If moral depravity consist in the choice of self-gratification, it would of course appear in early life. So this argument agrees quite as well with the opposing theory, and therefore proves nothing. But--

(ii.) This argument is good for nothing, unless the following be assumed as a major premise, and unless the fact assumed be indeed a truth, namely, "Whatever is developed in early life, must be an attribute of human nature." But this again is assuming the truth of the point in debate. This argument is based upon the assumption that a course of action common to all men, and commencing at the earliest moment of their moral agency, can be accounted for only by ascribing it to an attribute of nature, having the same moral character as that which belongs to the actions themselves. But this is not true. There may be more than one way of accounting for the universal sinfulness of human actions from the dawn of moral agency. It may be ascribed to the universality and peculiar nature of temptation, as has been said.

(3.) His third argument is, that "Moral depravity is not owing to any change that occurs subsequent to birth." Answer:--

No, the circumstances of temptation are sufficient to account for it without supposing the nature to be changed. This argument proves nothing, unless it be true, that the peculiar circumstances of temptation under which moral agents act, from the dawn of moral agency, cannot sufficiently account for their conduct, without supposing a change of nature subsequent to birth. "What then, does this arguing prove?"

Again, this argument is just as consistent with the opposing theory, and therefore proves neither.

(4.) His fourth argument is, "That moral depravity acts freely and spontaneously." Answer. The moral agent acts freely, and acts selfishly, that is wickedly. This argument assumes, that if a moral agent acts freely and wickedly, moral depravity, or sin, must be an attribute of his nature. Or more fairly, if mankind universally, in the exercise of their liberty, act sinfully, sinfulness must be an attribute of human nature. But what is sin? Why sin is a voluntary transgression of law, Dr. Woods being judge. Can a voluntary transgression of law be denominated an attribute of human nature?

But again, this argument alleges nothing but what is equally consistent with the opposite theory. If moral depravity consist in the choice of self-gratification as an end, it would of course freely and spontaneously manifest itself. This argument then, is good for nothing.

(5.) His fifth argument is, "That moral depravity is hard to overcome, and therefore it must be an attribute of human nature." Answer--

(i.) If it were an attribute of human nature, it could not be overcome at all, without a change of the human constitution.

(ii.) It is hard to overcome, just as selfishness naturally would be, in beings of a physically depraved constitution, and in the presence of so many temptations to self-indulgence.

(iii.) If it were an attribute of human nature, it could not be overcome without a change of personal identity. But the fact that it can be overcome without destroying the consciousness of personal identity, proves that it is not an attribute of human nature.

(6.) His sixth argument is, that "We can predict with certainty, that in due time it will act itself out." Answer: Just as might be expected. If moral depravity consists in selfishness, we can predict with certainty, that the spirit of self-pleasing will, in due time, and at all times, act itself out. We can also predict, without the gift of prophecy, that with a constitution physically depraved, and surrounded with objects to awaken appetite, and with all the circumstances in which human beings first form their moral character, they will seek universally to gratify themselves, unless prevented by the illuminations of the Holy Spirit. This argument is just as consistent with the opposite theory, and therefore proves neither.

It is unnecessary to occupy any more time with the treatise of Dr. Woods. I will now quote the standards of the Presbyterian church, which will put you in possession of their views upon this subject. At pp. 30, 31, of the Presbyterian Confession of Faith, we have the following: "By this sin, they (Adam and Eve) fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation. From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions."

Again, pp. 152-154, Shorter Catechism. "Question 22. Did all mankind fall in that first transgression? Ans. The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity; all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression.

"Question 23. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind? Ans. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

"Question 24. What is sin? Ans. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.

"Question 25. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell? Ans. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually, which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

"Question 26. How is original sin conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity? Ans. Original sin is conveyed from our first parents unto their posterity by natural generation, so as all that proceed from them in that way, are conceived and born in sin."

These extracts show, that the framers and defenders of this confession of faith, account for the moral depravity of mankind by making it to consist in a sinful nature, inherited by natural generation from Adam. They regard the constitution inherited from Adam, as in itself sinful, and the cause of all actual transgression. They make no distinction between physical and moral depravity. They also distinguish between original and actual sin. Original sin is the selfishness of the constitution, in which Adam's posterity have no other hand than to inherit it by natural generation, or by birth. This original sin, or sinful nature, renders mankind utterly disabled from all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all that is evil. This is their account of moral depravity. This, it will be seen, is substantially the ground of Dr. Woods.

It has been common with those who confound physical with moral depravity, and who maintain that human nature is itself sinful, to quote certain passages of Scripture to sustain their position. An examination of these proof texts, must, in the next place, occupy our attention. But before I enter upon this examination, I must first call your attention to certain well settled rules of biblical interpretation.

((1.)) Different passages must be so interpreted, if they can be, as not to contradict each other.

((2.)) Language is to be interpreted according to the subject matter of discourse.

((3.)) Respect is always to be had, to the general scope and design of the speaker or writer.

((4.)) Texts that are consistent with either theory, prove neither.

((5.)) Language is to be so interpreted, if it can be, as not to conflict with sound philosophy, matters of fact, the nature of things, or immutable justice.

Let us now, remembering and applying these plain rules of sound interpretation, proceed to the examination of those passages that are supposed to establish the theory of depravity I am examining.

Gen. v. 3.--"Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness and after his own image, and called his name Seth." It is not very easy to see, why this text should be pressed into the service of those who hold that human nature is in itself sinful. Why should it be assumed that the likeness and image here spoken of was a moral likeness or image? But, unless this be assumed, the text has nothing to do with the subject.

Again: it is generally admitted, that in all probability Adam was a regenerate man at the time and before the birth of Seth. Is it intended that Adam begat a saint or a sinner? If, as is supposed, Adam was a saint of God, if this text is anything to the purpose, it affirms that Adam begat a saint. But this is the opposite of that in proof of which the text is quoted.

Another text is, Job xiv. 4.--"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." This text is quoted in support of the position of the Presbyterian Confession of Faith, that children inherit from their parents, by natural generation, a sinful nature. Upon this text, I remark,--

(i.) That all that can be made of it, even if we read it without regard to the translation or the context, is, that a physically depraved parent will produce a physically depraved offspring.

(ii.) That this is its real meaning, is quite evident, when we look into the context. Job is treating of the frail and dying state of man, and manifestly has in the text and context his eye wholly on the physical state, and not on the moral character of man. What he intends is; who can bring other than a frail, dying offspring from a frail, dying parent? Not one. This is substantially the view that Professor Stuart takes of this text. The utmost that can be read of it is, that as he belonged to a race of sinners, nothing else could be expected than that he should be a sinner, without meaning to affirm anything in regard to the quo modo of this result.

Again: Job xv. 14.--"What is man that he should be clean, and he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous."

(1.) These are the words of Eliphaz, and it is improper to quote them as inspired truth. That Eliphaz uttered this sentiment, let what will be the meaning, there is no reason to doubt; and there is just as little reason to receive his doctrines as inspired truth. For God himself testifies that Job's friends did not hold the truth. But,

(2.) Suppose we receive the text as true, what is its import? Why, it simply asserts, or rather implies, the unrighteousness or sinfulness of the whole human race. It expresses the universality of human depravity, in the very common way of including all that are born of woman. This certainly says nothing, and implies nothing, respecting a sinful constitution. It is just as plain, and just as warrantable, to understand this passage as implying that mankind have become so physically depraved, that this fact, together with the circumstances under which they come into being, and begin their moral career, will certainly, (not necessarily,) result in moral depravity. I might use just such language as that found in this text, and, naturally enough, express by it my own views of moral depravity; to wit, that it results from a physically depraved constitution, and the circumstances of temptation under which children come into this world, and begin and prosecute their moral career; certainly this is the most that can be made of this text.

Again, Psalm li. 5.--"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." Upon this I remark,--

(1.) It would seem, if this text is to be understood literally, that the Psalmist intended to affirm the sinful state of his mother, at the time of his conception, and during gestation. But,--

(2.) I made a remark that is applicable to all the texts and arguments that are adduced in support of the theory in question; namely, that to take this view of the subject, and to interpret these passages as teaching the constitutional sinfulness of man, is to contradict God's own definition of sin, and the only definition that human reason or common sense can receive, to wit, that "sin is a transgression of the law." This is, no doubt, the only correct definition of sin. But we have seen that the law does not legislate over substance, requiring men to have a certain nature, but over voluntary action only. If the Psalmist really intended to affirm, that the substance of his body was sinful from its conception, then he not only arrays himself against God's own definition of sin, but he also affirms sheer nonsense. The substance of an unborn child sinful! It is impossible! But what did the Psalmist mean? I answer: This verse is found in David's penitential psalm. He was deeply convinced of sin, and was, as he had good reason to be, much excited, and expressed himself, as we all do in similar circumstances, in strong language. His eye, as was natural and is common in such cases, had been directed back along the pathway of life up to the days of his earliest recollection. He remembered sins among the earliest acts of his recollected life. He broke out in the language of this text to express, not the anti-scriptural and nonsensical dogma of a sinful constitution, but to affirm in his strong, poetic language, that he had always been a sinner from the commencement of his moral existence, or from the earliest moment of his capability of being a sinner. This is the strong language of poetry. To press this and similar texts further than this, is to violate two sound rules of biblical interpretation, to wit:--

(1.) That language is to be interpreted according to the subject matter of discourse. And,--

(2.) That one passage is to be so interpreted as not to contradict another. But to make this text state that sin belongs, or may belong, to the substance of an unborn infant, is to make it flatly contradict another passage that defines sin to be a "transgression of the law of God."

Some suppose that, in the passage in question, the Psalmist referred to, and meant to acknowledge and assert, his low and despicable origin, and to say, I was always a sinner, and my mother that conceived me was a sinner, and I am but the degenerate plant of a strange vine, without intending to affirm anything in respect to the absolute sinfulness of his nature.

Again, Psa. lviii. 3. "The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."

Upon this text I remark,--

That it has been quoted at one time to establish the doctrine of a sinful nature, and at another to prove that infants commit actual sin from the very day and hour of their birth. But certainly no such use can be legitimately made of this text. It does not affirm anything of a sinful nature, but this has been inferred from what it does affirm, that the wicked are estranged from their birth. But does this mean, that they are really and literally estranged from the day and hour of their birth, and that they really "go astray the very day they are born, speaking lies?" This every one knows to be contrary to fact. The text cannot then be pressed to the letter. What then does it mean? It must mean, like the text last examined, that the wicked are estranged and go astray from the commencement of their moral agency. If it means more than this, it would contradict other plain passages of scripture. It affirms, in strong, graphic, and poetic language, the fact, that the first moral conduct and character of children is sinful. This is all that in truth it can assert, and it doubtless dates the beginning of their moral depravity at a very early period, and expresses it in very strong language, as if it were literally from the hour of birth. But when it adds, that they go astray speaking lies, we know that this is not, and cannot be, literally taken, for, as every one knows, children do not speak at all from their birth. Should we understand the Psalmist as affirming, that children go astray as soon as they go at all, and speak lies as soon as they speak at all, this would not prove that their nature was in itself sinful, but might well consist with the theory that their physical depravity, together with their circumstances of temptation, led them into selfishness, from the very first moment of their moral existence.

Again, John iii. 6. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

Upon this I remark--

(1.) That it may, if literally taken, mean nothing more that this, that the body which is born of flesh is flesh, and that that which is born of the Spirit is spirit; that is, that this birth of which he was speaking was of the soul, and not of the body. But--

(2.) It may be understood to mean, that that which results from the influence of the flesh is flesh, in the sense of sin; for this is a common sense of the term flesh in the New Testament, and that which results from the Spirit, is spirit or spiritual, in the sense of holy. This I understand to be the true sense. The text when thus understood, does not at all support the dogma of a sinful nature or constitution, but only this, that the flesh tends to sin, that the appetites and passions are temptations to sin, so that when the will obeys them it sins. Whatever is born of the propensities, in the sense that the will yields to their control, is sinful. And, on the other hand, whatever is born of the Spirit, that is, whatever results from the agency of the Holy Spirit, in the sense that the will yields to Him, is holy.

Again, Eph. ii. 3. "By nature the children of wrath, even as others." Upon this text I remark--

(1.) That it cannot, consistently with natural justice, be understood to mean, that we are exposed to the wrath of God on account of our nature. It is a monstrous and blasphemous dogma, that a holy God is angry with any creature for possessing a nature with which he was sent into being without his knowledge or consent. The Bible represents God as angry with men for their wicked deeds, and not for their nature.

(2.) It is common and proper to speak of the first state in which men universally are, as a natural state. Thus we speak of sinners before regeneration, as in a state of nature, as opposed to a changed state, regenerate state, and a state of grace. By this we do not necessarily mean, that they have a nature sinful in itself, but merely that before regeneration they are universally and morally depraved, that this is their natural, as opposed to their regenerate state. Total moral depravity is the state that follows, and results from their first birth, and is in this sense natural, and in this sense alone, can it truly be said, that they are "by nature children of wrath." Against the use that is made of this text, and all this class of texts, may be arrayed the whole scope of scripture, that represents man as to blame, and to be judged and punished only for his deeds. The subject matter of discourse in these texts is such as to demand that we should understand them as not implying, or asserting, that sin is an essential part of our nature.

This lecture was typed in by John and Terri Clark.

LECTURE XL. Back to Top



The defenders of the doctrine of constitutional sinfulness, or moral depravity, urge as an additional argument:--

That sin is a universal effect of human nature, and therefore human nature must be itself sinful. Answer,--

This is a non sequitur. Sin may be, and must be, an abuse of free agency; and this may be accounted for, as we shall see, by ascribing it to the universality of temptation, and does not at all imply a sinful constitution. But if sin necessarily implies a sinful nature, how did Adam and Eve sin? Had they a sinful nature to account for, and to cause their first sin? How did angels sin? Had they also a sinful nature? Either sin does not imply a sinful nature, or a nature in itself sinful, or Adam and angels must have had sinful natures before their fall.

Again: suppose we regard sin as an event or effect. An effect only implies an adequate cause. Free, responsible will is an adequate cause in the presence of temptation, without the supposition of a sinful constitution, as has been demonstrated in the case of Adam and of angels. When we have found an adequate cause, it is unphilosophical to look for and assign another.

Again: it is said that no motive to sin could be a motive or a temptation, if there were not a sinful taste, relish, or appetite, inherent in the constitution, to which the temptation or motive is addressed. For example, the presence of food, it is said, would be no temptation to eat, were there not a constitutional appetency terminating on food. So the presence of any object could be no inducement to sin, were there not a constitutional appetency or craving for sin. So that, in fact, sin in action were impossible, unless there were sin in the nature. To this I reply,--

Suppose this objection be applied to the sin of Adam and of angels. Can we not account for Eve's eating the forbidden fruit without supposing that she had a craving for sin? The Bible informs us that her craving was for the fruit, for knowledge, and not for sin. The words are,--"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat." Here is nothing of a craving for sin. Eating this fruit was indeed sinful; but the sin consisted in consenting to gratify, in a prohibited manner, the appetites, not for sin, but for food and knowledge. But the advocates of this theory say, that there must be an adaptedness in the constitution, a something within answering to the outward motive or temptation, otherwise sin were impossible. This is true. But the question is, What is that something within, which responds to the outward motive? Is it a craving for sin? We have just seen what it was in the case of Adam and Eve. It was simply the correlation that existed between the fruit and their constitution, its presence exciting the desires for food and knowledge. This led to prohibited indulgence. But all men sin in precisely the same way. They consent to gratify, not a craving for sin, but a craving for other things, and the consent to make self-gratification an end, is the whole of sin.

This argument assumes as true, what on a former occasion we have seen to be false, namely, that sinners love sin for its own sake. If it could be true, total depravity would of necessity secure perfect blessedness. It would be the very state which the mind supremely loves for its own sake. The sinner could then say, not merely in the language of poetry, but in sober prose and fact, "Evil, be thou my good."

The theologians whose views we are canvassing, maintain that the appetites, passions, desires, and propensities, which are constitutional and entirely involuntary, are in themselves sinful. To this I reply, that Adam and Eve possessed them before they fell. Christ possessed them, or he was not a man, nor, in any proper sense, a human being. No, these appetites, passions, and propensities, are not sinful, though they are the occasions of sin. They are a temptation to the will to seek their unlawful indulgence. When these lusts or appetites are spoken of as the "passions of sin," or as "sinful lusts or passions," it is not because they are sinful in themselves, but because they are the occasions of sin. It has been asked, Why are not the appetites and propensities to be regarded as sinful, since they are the prevalent temptations to sin? I reply,--

(1.) They are involuntary, and moral character can no more be predicated of them, on account of their being temptations, than it could of the fruit that was a temptation to Eve. They have no design to tempt. They are constitutional, unintelligent, involuntary; and it is impossible that moral character should be predicable of them. A moral agent is responsible for his emotions, desires, &c., so far as they are under the direct or indirect control of his will, and no further. He is always responsible for the manner in which he gratifies them. If he indulges them in accordance with the law of God, he does right. If he makes their gratification his end, he sins.

(2.) Again: the death and suffering of infants previous to actual transgression, is adduced as an argument to prove that infants have a sinful nature. To this I reply,--

(i.) That this argument must assume, that there must be sin wherever there is suffering and death. But this assumption proves too much, as it would prove that mere animals have a sinful nature, or have committed actual sin. An argument that proves too much proves nothing.

(ii.) Physical sufferings prove only physical, and not moral, depravity. Previous to moral agency, infants are no more subjects of moral government than brutes are; therefore, their sufferings and death are to be accounted for as are those of brutes, namely, by ascribing them to physical interference with the laws of life and health.

Another argument for a sinful constitution is, that unless infants have a sinful nature, they do not need sanctification to fit them for heaven. Answer:--

(1.) This argument assumes, that, if they are not sinful, they must be holy; whereas they are neither sinful nor holy, until they are moral agents, and render themselves so by obedience or disobedience to the moral law. If they are to go to heaven, they must be made holy or must be sanctified.

(2.) This objection assumes, that previous sinfulness is a condition of the necessity of being holy. This is contrary to fact. Were Adam and angels first sinful before they were sanctified? But it is assumed that unless moral agents are at first sinners, they do not need the Holy Spirit to induce them to be holy. That is, unless their nature is sinful, they would become holy without the Holy Spirit. But where do we ascertain this? Suppose that they have no moral character, and that their nature is neither holy nor sinful. Will they become holy without being enlightened by the Holy Spirit? Who will assert that they will?

(3.) That infants have a sinful nature has been inferred from the institution of circumcision so early as the eighth day after birth. Circumcision, it is truly urged, was designed to teach the necessity of regeneration, and by way of implication, the doctrine of moral depravity. It is claimed, that its being enjoined as obligatory upon the eighth day after birth, was requiring it at the earliest period at which it could be safely performed. From this it is inferred, that infants are to be regarded as morally depraved from their birth.

In answer to this I would say, that infant circumcision was doubtless designed to teach the necessity of their being saved by the Holy Spirit from the dominion of the flesh; that the influence of the flesh must be restrained; and the flesh circumcised, or the soul would be lost. This truth needed to be impressed on the parents from the birth of their children. This very significant, and bloody, and painful rite, was well calculated to impress this truth upon parents, and to lead them from their birth to watch over the developement and indulgence of their propensities, and to pray for their sanctification. Requiring it at so early a day was no doubt designed to indicate, that they are from the first under the dominion of their flesh, without however affording any inference in favour of the idea, that their flesh was in itself sinful, or that the action of their will at that early age was sinful. If reason was not developed, the subjection of the will to appetite could not be sinful. But whether this subjection of the will to the gratification of the appetite was sinful or not, the child must be delivered from it, or it could never be fitted for heaven, any more than a mere brute can be fitted for heaven. The fact, that circumcision was required on the eighth day, and not before, seems to indicate, not that they are sinners absolutely from birth, but that they very early become so, even from the commencement of moral agency.

Again: the rite must be performed at some time. Unless a particular day were appointed, it would be very apt to be deferred, and finally not performed at all. It is probable, that God commanded that it should be done at the earliest period at which it could be safely done, not only for the reasons already assigned, but to prevent its being neglected too long, and perhaps altogether: and perhaps, also, because it would be less painful and dangerous at that early age, when the infant slept most of the time. The longer it was neglected the greater would be the temptation to neglect it altogether. So painful a rite needed to be enjoined by positive statute, at some particular time; and it was desirable on all accounts that it should be done as early as it safely could be. This argument, then, for native constitutional moral depravity amounts really to nothing.

Again: it is urged, that unless infants have a sinful nature, should they die in infancy, they could not be saved by the grace of Christ.

To this I answer, that, in this case they would not, and could not, as a matter of course, be sent to the place of punishment for sinners; because that were to confound the innocent with the guilty, a thing morally impossible with God.

But what grace could there be in saving them from a sinful constitution, that is not exercised in saving them from circumstances that would certainly result in their becoming sinners, if not snatched from them? In neither case do they need pardon for sin. Grace is unearned favour--a gratuity. If the child has a sinful nature, it is his misfortune, and not his crime. To save him from this nature is to save him from those circumstances that will certainly result in actual transgression, unless he is rescued by death and by the Holy Spirit. So if his nature is not sinful, yet it is certain that his nature and circumstances are such, that he will surely sin unless rescued by death or by the Holy Spirit, before he is capable of sinning. It certainly must be an infinite favour to be rescued from such circumstances, and especially to have eternal life conferred as a mere gratuity. This surely is grace. And as infants belong to a race of sinners who are all, as it were, turned over into the hands of Christ, they doubtless will ascribe their salvation to the infinite grace of Christ.

Again: is it not grace that saves us from sinning? What then is it but grace that saves infants from sinning, by snatching them away from circumstances of temptation? In what way does grace save adults from sinning, but by keeping them from temptation, or by giving them grace to overcome it? And is there no grace in rescuing infants from circumstances that are certain, if they are left in them, to lead them into sin?

All that can be justly said in either case is, that if infants are saved at all, which I suppose they are, they are rescued by the benevolence of God from circumstances that would result in certain and eternal death, and are by grace made heirs of eternal life. But after all, it is useless to speculate about the character and destiny of those who are confessedly not moral agents. The benevolence of God will take care of them. It is nonsensical to insist upon their moral depravity before they are moral agents, and it is frivolous to assert, that they must be morally depraved, as a condition of their being saved by grace.

We deny that the human constitution is morally depraved,--

((1.)) Because there is no proof of it.

((2.)) Because it is impossible that sin should be a quality of the substance of soul or body. It is, and must be, a quality of choice or intention, and not of substance.

((3.)) To make sin an attribute or quality of substance is contrary to God's definition of sin. "Sin," says the apostle, "is anomia," a "transgression of, or a want of conformity to, the moral law." That is, it consists in a refusal to love God and our neighbour, or, which is the same thing, in loving ourselves supremely.

((4.)) To represent the constitution as sinful, is to represent God, who is the author of the constitution, as the author of sin. To say that God is not the direct former of the constitution, but that sin is conveyed by natural generation from Adam, who made himself sinful, is only to remove the objection one step farther back, but not to obviate it; for God established the physical laws that of necessity bring about this result.

((5.)) But how came Adam by a sinful nature? Did his first sin change his nature? or did God change it as a penalty for sin? What ground is there for the assertion that Adam's nature became in itself sinful by the fall? This is a groundless, not to say ridiculous, assumption, and an absurdity. Sin an attribute of nature! A sinful substance! Sin a substance! Is it a solid, a fluid, a material, or a spiritual substance?

I have received from a brother the following note on this subject:--

"The orthodox creeds are in some cases careful to say that original sin consists in the substance of neither soul nor body. Thus Bretschneider, who is reckoned among the rationalists in Germany, says: 'The symbolical books very rightly maintained that original sin is not in any sense the substance of man, his body or soul, as Flacius taught,--but that it has been infused into human nature by Satan, and mixed with it, as poison and wine are mixed.'

"They rather expressly guard against the idea that they mean by the phrase 'man's nature,' his substance, but somewhat which is fixed in the substance. They explain original sin, therefore, not as an essential attribute of man, that is, a necessary and essential part of his being, but as an accident, that is, somewhat which does not subsist in itself, but as something accidental, which has come into human nature. He quotes the Formula Concordantiæ as saying: 'Nature does not denote the substance itself of man, but something which inheres fixed in the nature or substance.' Accident is defined, 'what does not subsist by itself, but is in some substance and can be distinguished from it.'"

Here, it seems, is sin by itself, and yet not a substance or subsistence--not a part or attribute of soul or body. What can it be? Does it consist in wrong action? No, not in action, but is an accident which inheres fixed in the nature of substance. But what can it be? Not substance, nor yet action. But if it be anything, it must be either substance or action. If it be a state of substance, what is this but substance in a particular state? What a wonder it must be! Who ever saw it? But it is invisible, for it is something neither matter nor spirit--a virus, a poison mixed with, yet distinct from, the constitution. Do these writers think by this subtlety and refinement to relieve their doctrine of constitutional moral depravity of its intrinsic absurdity? If so, they are greatly mistaken; for really they only render it more absurd and ridiculous.

((6.)) I object to the doctrine of constitutional sinfulness, that it makes all sin, original and actual, a mere calamity, and not a crime. For those who hold that sin is an essential and inseparable part of our nature, to call it a crime, is to talk nonsense. What! a sinful nature the crime of him upon whom it is entailed, without his knowledge or consent? If the nature is sinful, in such a sense that action must necessarily be sinful, which is the doctrine of the Confession of Faith, then sin in action must be a calamity, and can be no crime. It is the necessary effect of a sinful nature. This cannot be a crime, since the will has nothing to do with it.

((7.)) This doctrine represents sin as a disease, and obedience to law impossible, until the nature is changed by a sovereign and physical agency of the Holy Spirit, in which the subject is passive.

((8.)) Of course it must render repentance, either with or without the grace of God, impossible, unless grace sets aside our reason. If repentance implies self-condemnation, we can never repent in the exercise of our reason. Constituted as we are, it is impossible that we should condemn ourselves for a sinful nature, or for actions that are unavoidable. The doctrine of original sin, or of a sinful constitution, and of necessary sinful actions, represents the whole moral government of God, the plan of salvation by Christ, and indeed every doctrine of the gospel, as a mere farce. Upon this supposition the law is tyranny, and the gospel an insult to the unfortunate.

((9.)) This doctrine represents sin as being of two kinds: original or constitutional, and actual--sin of substance, and sin of action; whereas neither the Bible, nor common sense acknowledges more than one kind of sin, and that consists in disobedience to the law.

((10.)) This doctrine represents a sinful nature as the physical cause of actual sin.

((11.)) It acknowledges a kind of sin of which no notice will be taken at the judgment. The Bible everywhere represents the deeds done in the body, and not the constitution itself, as the only things to be brought into judgment.

((12.)) It necessarily begets in sinners a self-justifying and God-condemning spirit. Man must cease to be a reasonable being, and give himself up to the most ridiculous imaginations, before he can blame himself for Adam's sin, as some have professed to do, or before he can blame himself for possessing a sinful nature, or for sins that unavoidably resulted from a sinful nature.

((13.)) This doctrine necessarily leads its advocates rather to pity and excuse sinners, than unqualifiedly to blame them.

((14.)) It is difficult, and, indeed, impossible for those who really believe this doctrine, to urge immediate repentance and submission on the sinner, feeling that he is infinitely to blame unless he instantly comply. It is a contradiction to affirm, that a man can heartily believe in the doctrine in question, and yet truly and heartily blame sinners for not doing what is naturally impossible to them. The secret conviction must be in the mind of such an one, that the sinner is not really to blame for being a sinner. For in fact, if this doctrine is true, he is not to blame for being a sinner, any more than he is to blame for being a human being. This the advocate of this doctrine must know. It is vain for him to set up the pretence that he truly blames sinners for their nature, or for their conduct that was unavoidable. He can no more do it, than he can honestly deny the necessary affirmations of his own reason. Therefore the advocates of this theory must merely hold it as a theory, without believing it, or otherwise they must in their secret conviction excuse the sinner.

((15.)) This doctrine naturally and necessarily leads its advocates, secretly at least, to ascribe the atonement of Christ rather to justice than to grace--to regard it rather as an expedient to relieve the unfortunate, than to render the forgiveness of the inexcusable sinner, possible. The advocates of the theory cannot but regard the case of the sinner as rather a hard one, and God as under an obligation to provide a way for him to escape a sinful nature, entailed upon him in spite of himself, and from actual transgressions which result from his nature by a law of necessity. If all this is true, the sinner's case is infinitely hard, and God would appear the most unreasonable and cruel of beings, if he did not provide for their escape. These convictions will, and must, lodge in the mind of him who really believes the dogma of a sinful nature. This, in substance, is sometimes affirmed by the defenders of the doctrine of original sin.

((16.)) The fact that Christ died in the stead and behalf of sinners, proves that God regarded them not as unfortunate, but as criminal and altogether without excuse. Surely Christ need not have died to atone for the misfortunes of men. His death was to atone for their guilt, and not for their misfortunes. But if they are without excuse for sin, they must be without a sinful nature that renders sin unavoidable. If men are without excuse for sin, as the whole law and gospel assume and teach, it cannot possibly be that their nature is sinful, for a sinful nature would be the best of all excuses for sin.

((17.)) This doctrine is a stumbling-block both to the church and the world, infinitely dishonourable to God, and an abomination alike to God and the human intellect, and should be banished from every pulpit, and from every formula of doctrine, and from the world. It is a relic of heathen philosophy, and was foisted in among the doctrines of Christianity by Augustine, as every one may know who will take the trouble to examine for himself. This view of moral depravity that I am opposing, has long been the stronghold of universalism. From it, the universalists inveighed with resistless force against the idea that sinners would be sent to an eternal hell. Assuming the long-defended doctrine of original or constitutional sinfulness, they proceed to show, that it would be infinitely unreasonable and unjust in God to send them to hell. What! create them with a sinful nature, from which proceed, by a law of necessity, actual transgressions, and then send them to an eternal hell for having this nature, and for transgressions that are unavoidable? Impossible! they say; and the human intellect responds, Amen.

((18.)) From the dogma of a sinful nature or constitution also, has naturally and irresistibly flowed the doctrine of inability to repent, and the necessity of a physical regeneration. These too have been a sad stumbling-block to universalists, as every one knows who is at all acquainted with the history of universalism. They infer the salvation of all men, from the fact of God's benevolence and physical omnipotence! God is almighty, and he is love. Men are constitutionally depraved, and are unable to repent. God will not, cannot send them to hell. They do not deserve it. Sin is a calamity, and God can save them, and he ought to do so. This is the substance of their argument. And assuming the truth of their premises, there is no evading their conclusion. But the whole argument is built on "such stuff as dreams are made of." Strike out the erroneous dogma of a sinful nature, and the whole edifice of universalism comes to the ground in a moment.

This lecture was typed in by Jim Boyd.

LECTURE XLI. Back to Top


We come now to consider--

The term "moral" is from the Latin mos, manners. The term "depravity," as has been shown, is from de and pravus, crooked. The terms united, signify crooked manners, or bad morals. The word amartia, rendered sin, as has been said, signifies to miss the mark, to aim at the wrong end, a deviation from the divine law. In this discussion I must,

(1.) Remind you of some positions that have been settled respecting moral depravity.

(2.) Consult the oracles of God respecting the nature of moral depravity, or sin.

(3.) Consult the oracles of God in respect to the proper method of accounting for the existence of sin.

(4.) Show the manner in which it is to be accounted for as an ultimate fact.

(1.) Some positions that have been settled.

(i.) It has been shown that moral depravity resolves itself into selfishness.

(ii.) That selfishness consists in the supreme choice of self-indulgence.

(iii.) That self-indulgence consists in the committal of the will to the gratification of the sensibility, as opposed to obeying the law of the reason, and of God.

(iv.) That sin, or moral depravity, is a unit, and always consists in this committed state of the will to self-gratification, irrespective of the particular form or means of self-gratification.

(v.) It has also been shown, that moral depravity does not consist in a sinful nature.

(vi.) And, also that actual transgression cannot justly be ascribed to a sinful constitution.

(vii.) We have also seen that all sin is actual, and that no other than actual transgression can justly be called sin.

(2.) We are to consult the oracles of God respecting the nature of moral depravity, or sin.

Reference has often been made to the teachings of inspiration upon this subject. But it is important to review our ground in this place, that we may ascertain what are the teachings, and what are the assumptions, of the bible in regard to the nature of sin. Does it assume that as a truth, which natural theology teaches upon the subject? What is taught in the bible, either expressly, or by way of inference and implication, upon this subject?

(i.) The Bible gives a formal definition of sin. 1 John iii. 4, "Sin is a transgression of the law;" and v. 17, "All unrighteousness is sin." As was remarked on a former occasion, this definition is not only an accurate one, but it is the only one that can possibly be true.

(ii.) The Bible everywhere makes the law the only standard of right and wrong, and obedience to it to be the whole of virtue, and disobedience to it the whole of sin. This truth lies everywhere upon the face of the Bible. It is taught, assumed, implied, or expressed, on every page of the Bible.

(iii.) It holds men responsible for their voluntary actions alone, or more strictly for their choices alone, and expressly affirms, that "if there be a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not." That is, willing as God directs is accepted as obedience, whether we are able to execute our choices or not.

(iv.) The Bible always represents sin as something done or committed, or wilfully omitted, and never as a part or attribute of soul or body. We have seen, that the texts that have been relied on, as teaching the doctrine of constitutional sinfulness, when rightly understood, mean no such thing.

(v.) The Bible assures us, that all sin shall pass in review at the solemn judgment, and always represents all sin then to be recognized, as consisting in "the deeds done in the body." Texts that support these assertions are too numerous to need to be quoted, as every reader of the Bible knows.

(3.) We are to consult the Bible in respect to the proper method of accounting for moral depravity.

(i.) We have more than once seen that the Bible has given us the history of the introduction of sin into our world; and that from the narrative, it is plain, that the first sin consisted in selfishness, or in consenting to indulge the excited constitutional propensities in a prohibited manner. In other words, it consisted in yielding the will to the impulses of the sensibility, instead of abiding by the law of God, as revealed in the intelligence. Thus the Bible ascribes the first sin of our race to the influence of temptation.

(ii.) The Bible once, and only once, incidentally intimates that Adam's first sin has in some way been the occasion, not the necessary physical cause, of all the sins of men. Rom. v. 12-19.

(iii.) It neither says nor intimates anything in relation to the manner in which Adam's sin has occasioned this result. It only incidentally recognizes the fact, and then leaves it, just as if the quo modo was too obvious to need explanation.

(iv.) In other parts of the Bible we are informed how we are to account for the existence of sin among men. For example, James i. 15, "When lust ('desire', epithumia) has conceived, it bringeth forth sin." Here sin is represented, not as the desire itself, but as consisting in the consent of the will to gratify the desire.

James says again, that a man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lusts, (epithumia "desires") and enticed. That is, his lusts, or the impulses of his sensibility, are his tempters. When he or his will is overcome of these, he sins.

(v.) Paul and other inspired writers represent sin as consisting in a carnal or fleshly mind, in the mind of the flesh, or in minding the flesh. It is plain that by the term flesh they mean what we understand by the sensibility, as distinguished from intellect, and that they represent sin as consisting in obeying, minding the impulses of the sensibility. They represent the world, and the flesh, and Satan, as the three great sources of temptation. It is plain that the world and Satan tempt by appeals to the flesh, or to the sensibility. Hence, the apostles have much to say of the necessity of the destruction of the flesh, of the members, of putting off the old man with his deeds, &c. Now, it is worthy of remark, that all this painstaking, on the part of inspiration, to intimate the source from whence our sin proceeds, and to apprise us of the proper method of accounting for it, and also of avoiding it, has probably been the occasion of leading certain philosophers and theologians who have not carefully examined the whole subject, to take a view of it which is directly opposed to the truth intended by the inspired writers. Because so much is said of the influence of the flesh over the mind, they have inferred that the nature and physical constitution of man is itself sinful. But the representations of Scripture are, that the body is the occasion of sin. The law in his members, that warred against the law of his mind, of which Paul speaks, is manifestly the impulse of the sensibility opposed to the law of the reason. This law, that is, the impulse of his sensibility, brings him into captivity, that is, influences his will, in spite of all his convictions to the contrary.

In short, the Bible rightly interpreted, everywhere assumes and implies, that sin consists in selfishness. It is remarkable, if the Bible be read with an eye to its teachings and assumptions on this point, to what an extent this truth will appear.

(4.) How moral depravity is to be accounted for.

(i.) It consists, remember, in the committal of the will to the gratification or indulgence of self--in the will's following, or submitting itself to be governed by, the impulses and desires of the sensibility, instead of submitting itself to the law of God revealed in the reason.

(ii.) This definition of the thing shows how it is to be accounted for, namely; the sensibility acts as a powerful impulse to the will, from the moment of birth, and secures the consent and activity of the will to procure its gratification, before the reason is at all developed. The will is thus committed to the gratification of feeling and appetite, when first the idea of moral obligation is developed. This committed state of the will is not moral depravity, and has no moral character, until the idea of moral obligation is developed. The moment this idea is developed, this committal of the will to self-indulgence must be abandoned, or it becomes selfishness, or moral depravity. But, as the will is already in a state of committal, and has to some extent already formed the habit of seeking to gratify feeling, and as the idea of moral obligation is at first but feebly developed, unless the Holy Spirit interferes to shed light on the soul, the will, as might be expected, retains its hold on self-gratification. Here alone moral character commences, and must commence. No one can conceive of its commencing earlier. Let it be remembered, that selfishness consists in the supreme and ultimate choice, or in the preference of self-gratification as an end, or for its own sake, over all other interests. Now, as the choice of an end implies and includes the choice of the means, selfishness, of course, causes all that outward life and activity that makes up the entire history of sinners.

This selfish choice is the wicked heart--the propensity to sin--that causes what is generally termed actual transgression. This sinful choice is properly enough called indwelling sin. It is the latent, standing, controlling preference of the mind, and the cause of all the outward and active life. It is not the choice of sin itself, distinctly conceived of, or chosen as sin, but the choice of self-gratification, which choice is sin.

Again: It should be remembered, that the physical depravity of our race has much to do with our moral depravity. A diseased physical system renders the appetites, passions, tempers, and propensities more clamorous and despotic in their demands, and of course constantly urging to selfishness, confirms and strengthens it. It should be distinctly remembered that physical depravity has no moral character in itself. But yet it is a source of fierce temptation to selfishness. The human sensibility is, manifestly, deeply physically depraved; and as sin, or moral depravity, consists in committing the will to the gratification of the sensibility, its physical depravity will mightily strengthen moral depravity. Moral depravity is then universally owing to temptation. That is, the soul is tempted to self-indulgence, and yields to the temptation, and this yielding, and not the temptation, is sin or moral depravity. This is manifestly the way in which Adam and Eve became morally depraved. They were tempted, even by undepraved appetite, to prohibited indulgence, and were overcome. The sin did not lie in the constitutional desire of food, or of knowledge, or in the excited state of these appetites or desires, but in the consent of the will to prohibited indulgence.

Just in the same way all sinners become such, that is, they become morally depraved, by yielding to temptation to self-gratification under some form. Indeed, it is impossible that they should become morally depraved in any other way. To deny this were to overlook the very nature of moral depravity. It is remarkable, that President Edwards, after writing five hundred pages, in which he confounds physical and moral depravity; in answer to an objection of Dr. Taylor of England, that his view made God the author of the constitution, the author also of sin, turns immediately round, and without seeming aware of his own inconsistency, ascribes all sin to temptation, and makes it consist altogether in obeying the propensities, just as I have done. His words are--

"One argument against a supposed native, sinful depravity, which Dr. Taylor greatly insists upon, is, 'that this does, in effect, charge Him who is the author of our nature, who formed us in the womb, with being the author of a sinful corruption of nature; and that it is highly injurious to the God of our nature, whose hands have formed and fashioned us, to believe our nature to be originally corrupted, and that in the worst sense of corruption.'

"With respect to this, I would observe, in the first place, that this writer, in handling this grand objection, supposes something to belong to the doctrine objected against, as maintained by the divines whom he is opposing, which does not belong to it, nor follow from it. As particularly, he supposes the doctrine of original sin to imply, that nature must be corrupted by some positive influence; 'something, by some means or other, infused into human nature; some quality or other, not from the choice of our minds, but like a taint, tincture, or infection, altering the natural constitution, faculties, and dispositions of our souls! That sin and evil dispositions are implanted in the fetus in the womb.' Whereas truly our doctrine neither implies nor infers any such thing. In order to account for a sinful corruption of nature, yea, a total native depravity of the heart of man, there is not the least need of supposing any evil quality infused, implanted, or wrought into the nature of man, by any positive cause or influence whatsoever, either from God, or the creature; or of supposing that man is conceived and born with a fountain of evil in his heart, such as is anything properly positive. I think a little attention to the nature of things will be sufficient to satisfy any impartial, considerate inquirer, that the absence of positive good principles, and so the withholding of a special divine influence to impart and maintain those good principles--leaving the common natural principles of self-love, natural appetite, &c, to themselves, without the government of superior divine principles, will certainly be followed with the corruption, yea, the total corruption of the heart, without occasion for any positive influences at all. And that it was thus in fact, that corruption of nature came on Adam immediately on his fall, and comes on all his posterity as sinning in him, and falling with him.

"The case with man was plainly this: When God made man at first he implanted in him two kinds of principles. There was an inferior kind which may be natural, being the principles of mere human nature; such as self-love, with those natural appetites and passions which belong to the nature of man, in which his love to his own liberty, honour, and pleasure, were exercised. These, when alone, and left to themselves, are what the scriptures sometimes call flesh. Besides these, there were superior principles, that were spiritual, holy, and divine, summarily comprehended in divine love; wherein consisted the spiritual image of God, and man's righteousness and true holiness; which are called in scripture the divine nature. These principles may, in some sense, be called supernatural, being (however concreated or connate, yet) such as are above those principles that are essentially implied in, or necessarily resulting from, and inseparably connected with, mere human nature: and being such as immediately depend on man's union and communion with God, or divine communications and influences of God's Spirit, which though withdrawn, and man's nature forsaken of these principles, human nature would be human nature still; man's nature, as such, being entire without these divine principles, which the scripture sometimes calls spirit, in contradistinction to flesh. These superior principles were given to possess the throne, and maintain absolute dominion in the heart; the other to be wholly subordinate and subservient. And while things continued thus, all was in excellent order, peace, and beautiful harmony, and in a proper and perfect state. These divine principles thus reigning, were the dignity, life, happiness, and glory of man's nature. When man sinned and broke God's covenant, and fell under his curse, these superior principles left his heart; for, indeed, God then left him, that communion with God on which these principles depended, entirely ceased; the Holy Spirit, that divine inhabitant, forsook the house, because it would have been utterly improper in itself, and inconsistent with the constitution God had established, that he should still maintain communion with man, and continue, by his friendly, gracious, vital influences, to dwell with him and in him, after he was become a rebel, and had incurred God's wrath and curse. Therefore, immediately the superior divine principles wholly ceased; so light ceases in a room when the candle is withdrawn; and thus man was left in a state of darkness, woeful corruption, and ruin; nothing but flesh without spirit. The inferior principles of self-love and natural appetite, which were given only to serve, being alone, and left to themselves, of course became reigning principles; having no superior principles to regulate or control them, they became the absolute masters of the heart. The immediate consequence of which was a fatal catastrophe, a turning of all things upside down, and the succession of a state of the most odious and dreadful confusion. Man immediately set up himself, and the objects of his private affections and appetites, as supreme, and so they took the place of God. These inferior principles were like fire in a house; which we say is a good servant, but a bad master; very useful while kept in this place, but if left to take possession of the whole house, soon brings all to destruction. Man's love to his own honour, separate interests, and private pleasure, which before was wholly subordinate unto love to God, and regard to his authority and glory, now disposes and impels him to pursue those objects, without regard to God's honour or law; because there is no true regard to these divine things left in him. In consequence of which, he seeks those objects as much when against God's honour and law, as when agreeable to them. God still continuing strictly to require supreme regard to himself, and forbidding all undue gratification of these inferior passions; but only in perfect subordination to the ends, and agreeable to the rules and limits which his holiness, honour, and law prescribe; hence, immediately arises enmity in the heart, now wholly under the power of self-love; and nothing but war ensures, in a course against God. As when a subject has once renounced his lawful sovereign, and set up a pretender in his stead, a state of enmity and war against his rightful king necessarily ensues. It were easy to show, how every lust, and depraved disposition of man's heart, would naturally arise from this privative original, if here were room for it. Thus it is easy to give an account, how total corruption of heart should follow on man's eating the forbidden fruit, though that was but one act of sin, without God putting any evil into his heart, or implanting any bad principle, or infusing any corrupt taint, and so becoming the author of depravity. Only God's withdrawing, as it was highly proper and necessary that he should, from rebel man, and his natural principles being left to themselves, is sufficient to account for his becoming entirely corrupt, and bent on sinning against God.

"And as Adam's nature became corrupt, without God's implanting or infusing of any evil thing into it; so does the nature of his posterity. God dealing with Adam as the head of his posterity, as has been shown, and treating them as one, he deals with his posterity as having all sinned in him. And therefore, as God withdrew spiritual communion, and his vital, gracious influence from all the members, as they come into existence; whereby they come into the world mere flesh, and entirely under the government of natural and inferior principles; and so become wholly corrupt, as Adam did."--Edwards' Works, pp. 532-538.

To sum up the truth upon this subject in few words, I would say--
(1.) The impulses of the sensibility are developed, and gradually commencing from the birth, and depending on physical developement and birth.

(2.) The first acts of will are in obedience to these.

(3.) Self-gratification is the rule of action previous to the developement of reason.

(4.) No resistance is offered to the will's indulgence of appetite, until a habit of self-indulgence is formed.

(5.) When reason affirms moral obligation, it finds the will in a state of habitual and constant committal to the impulses of the sensibility.

(6.) The demands of the sensibility have become more and more despotic every hour of indulgence.

(7.) In this state of things, unless the Holy Spirit interpose, the idea of moral obligation will be but dimly developed.

(8.) The will of course rejects the bidding of reason, and cleaves to self-indulgence.

(9.) This is the settling of a fundamental question. It is deciding in favour of appetite, against the claims of conscience and of God.

(10.) Light once rejected, can be afterwards more easily resisted, until it is nearly excluded altogether.

(11.) Selfishness confirms, and strengthens, and perpetuates itself by a natural process. It grows with the sinner's growth, and strengthens with his strength; and will do so for ever, unless overcome by the Holy Spirit through the truth.


A thorough consideration of the subject, will doubtless lead to the conviction, that children become moral agents much earlier than is generally supposed. The conditions of moral agency are, as has been repeatedly said in former lectures, the possession of the powers of moral agency, together with the developement of the ideas of the good or valuable, of moral obligation or oughtness--of right and wrong--of praise and blameworthiness. I have endeavoured to show, in former lectures, that mental satisfaction, blessedness or happiness, is the ultimate good. Satisfaction arising from the gratification of the appetites, is one of the earliest experiences of human beings. This no doubt suggest or developes, at a very early period, the idea of the good or the valuable. The idea is doubtless developed, long before the word that expresses it is understood. The child knows that happiness is good, and seeks it in the form of self-gratification, long before the terms that designate this state of mind are at all understood. It knows that its own enjoyment is worth seeking, and doubtless very early has the idea, that the enjoyment of others is worth seeking, and affirms to itself, not in words, but in idea, that it ought to please its parents and those around it. It knows, in fact, though language is as yet unknown, that it loves to be gratified, and to be happy, that it loves and seeks enjoyment for itself, and doubtless has the idea that it ought not to displease and distress those around it, but that it ought to endeavour to please and gratify them. This is probably among the first ideas, if not the very first idea, of the pure reason that is developed, that is, the idea of the good, the valuable, the desirable; and the next must be that of oughtness, or of moral obligation, or of right and wrong, &c. I say again, these ideas are, and must be developed, before the signs or words that express them are at all understood, and the words would never be understood except the idea were first developed. We always find, at the earliest period at which children can understand words, that they have the idea of obligation, of right and wrong. As soon as these words are understood by them, they recognize them as expressing ideas already in their own minds, and which ideas they have had further back than they can remember. Some, and indeed most persons, seem to have the idea, that children affirm themselves to be under moral obligation, before they have the idea of the good; that they affirm their obligation to obey their parents before they know, or have the idea of the good or of the valuable. But this is, and must be a mistake. They may and do affirm obligation to obey their parents, before they can express in language, and before they would understand, a statement of the grounds of their obligation. The idea, however, they have, and must have, or they could not affirm obligation. It is agreed, and cannot be denied, that moral obligation respects acts of will, and not strictly outward action. It is agreed, and cannot be denied, that obligation respects intelligent actions of will. It is also agreed, and cannot be denied, that all intelligent acts of will, and such as those to which moral obligation belongs, must respect ends or means. If, therefore, one has any true idea of moral obligation, it must respect acts of will or intentions. It must respect the choice of an end, or of means. If it respect the choice of a means, the idea of the end must exist. It cannot justly affirm obligation of anything but choice or intention, for, as a matter of fact, obligation belongs to nothing else. The fact is, the child knows that it ought to please its parent, and seek to make its parent happy. This it knows, that it ought to intend, long before it knows what the word intention means. Upon this assumption it bases all its affirmations in respect to its obligation to obey its parents and others that are around it. It regards its own satisfaction or enjoyment as a good, and seeks it, before it knows what the words mean that express this state of mind. It also knows, that the enjoyment of others is a good, and affirms not in word, but in idea, that it ought to seek the enjoyment of all. This idea is the basis upon which all affirmations of obligation rest, and if it be truly an idea of real obligation, it is impossible that the idea of the good, or of the value of enjoyment, should not be its base. To assert the contrary, is to overlook the admitted fact, that moral obligation must respect choice, and the choice of an end; that it must respect intention. It is absurd to suppose, that a being can truly affirm moral obligation, in respect to outward action before he has the idea of the obligation to will, or intend, an end. The idea of an end may not be developed in words, that is, the word expressive of the idea may not be understood, but the idea must be in the mind, in a state of developement, or there can be no affirmation of obligation. The fact is, there is a logical connection between the idea of the good, and the idea of moral obligation, of right and wrong, of praise and blameworthiness. These latter ideas cannot exist without the first, and the existence of that necessitates the developement of these. These are first truths of reason. In other words, these ideas are universally and necessarily developed in the minds of moral agents, and indeed their developement is the condition of moral agency. Most of the first truths are developed in idea, long before the language in which they are expressed is or can be understood. Thus the ideas of space, of time, of causality, of liberty of will, or ability, of the good, of oughtness, or obligation of right and wrong, of praise or blameworthiness, and many others, are developed before the meaning of these words is at all understood. Human beings come gradually to understand the words or signs that represent their ideas, and afterwards, so often express their ideas in words, that they finally get the impression that they received the idea from the word, whereas, in every instance, in respect to the first truths of reason, they had the idea long before they understood, or perhaps ever heard, the word that represents it, and was coined to express it.

This lecture was typed in by Vic Johanson.



In the examination of this subject I will--













I. I am to point out the common distinction between regeneration and conversion.

When we come to the examination of the philosophical theories of regeneration, we shall see that the views of these theologians respecting regeneration result naturally and necessarily from their holding the dogma of constitutional moral depravity, which we have recently examined. Until their views on that subject are corrected, no change can be expected in their views of this subject. I said in a concluding remark, when upon the subject of moral depravity, that erroneous views upon that subject must necessarily materially affect and modify one's views upon most of the questions in practical theology. Let us bear this remark in mind as we proceed, not only in the discussions immediately before us, but also in all our future investigations, that we may duly appreciate the importance of clear and correct views on the subject of practical theology.

II. I am to state the assigned reasons for this distinction.

III. I am to state the objections to this distinction.

It has been objected, that the term really means and expresses only the Divine agency; and only by way of implication, embraces the idea of a change of moral character and of course of activity in the subject. To this I reply--

(1.) That if it really expresses only the Divine agency, it leaves out of view the thing effected by Divine agency.

(2.) That it really and fully expresses not only the Divine agency, but also that which this agency accomplishes.

(3.) The thing which the agency of God brings about, is a new or spiritual birth, a resurrection from spiritual death, the inducing of a new and holy life. The thing done is the prominent idea expressed or intended by the term.

(4.) The thing done implies the turning or activity of the subject. It is nonsense to affirm that his moral character is changed without any activity or agency of his own. Passive holiness is impossible. Holiness is obedience to the law of God, the law of love, and of course consists in the activity of the creature.

(5.) We have said that regeneration is synonymous in the Bible with a new heart. But sinners are required to make to themselves a new heart, which they could not do, if they were not active in this change. If the work is a work of God, in such a sense, that He must first regenerate the heart or soul before the agency of the sinner begins, it were absurd and unjust to require him to make to himself a new heart, until he is first regenerated.

Regeneration is ascribed to man in the gospel, which it could not be, if the term were designed to express only the agency of the Holy Spirit. "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."--1 Cor. iv. 15.

(6.) Conversion is spoken of in the Bible as the work of another than the subject of it, and cannot therefore have been designed to express only the activity of the subject of it. (1.) It is ascribed to the word of God.--"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple."--Ps. xix. 7. (2.) To man. "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."--James v. 19, 20.

(7.) Both conversion and regeneration are sometimes in the Bible ascribed to God, sometimes to man, and sometimes to the subject; which shows clearly that the distinction under examination is arbitrary and theological, rather than biblical.

(8.) The fact is, that both terms imply the simultaneous exercise of both human and Divine agency. The fact that a new heart is the thing done, demonstrates the activity of the subject; and the word regeneration, or the expression "born of the Holy Spirit," asserts the Divine agency. The same is true of conversion, or the turning the sinner to God. God is said to turn him, and he is said to turn himself. God draws him, and he follows. In both alike God and man are both active, and their activity is simultaneous. God works or draws, and the sinner yields or turns, or which is the same thing, changes his heart, or, in other words, is born again. The sinner is dead in trespasses and sins. God calls on him, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Eph. v. 14. God calls; the sinner hears and answers, Here am I. God says, Arise from the dead. The sinner puts forth his activity, and God draws him into life; or rather, God draws, and the sinner comes forth to life.

(9.) The distinction set up is not only not recognized in the Bible, but is plainly of most injurious tendency, for two reasons:--

(i.) It assumes and inculcates a false philosophy of depravity and regeneration.

(ii.) It leads the sinner to wait to be regenerated, before he repents or turns to God. It is of most fatal tendency to represent the sinner as under a necessity of waiting to be passively regenerated, before he gives himself to God.

As the distinction is not only arbitrary, but anti-scriptural and injurious, and inasmuch as it is founded in, and is designed to teach, a philosophy false and pernicious on the subject of depravity and regeneration, I shall drop and discard the distinction; and in our investigations henceforth, let it be understood, that I use regeneration and conversion as synonymous terms.

IV. I am to show what regeneration is not.

It is not a change in the substance of soul or body. If it were, sinners could not be required to effect it. Such a change would not constitute a change of moral character. No such change is needed, as the sinner has all the faculties and natural attributes requisite to render perfect obedience to God. All he needs is to be induced to use these powers and attributes as he ought. The words conversion and regeneration do not imply any change of substance, but only a change of moral state or of moral character. The terms are not used to express a physical, but a moral change. Regeneration does not express or imply the creation of any new faculties or attributes of nature, nor any change whatever in the constitution of body or mind. I shall remark further upon this point when we come to the examination of the philosophical theories of regeneration before alluded to.

V. What regeneration is.

It has been said that regeneration and a change of heart are identical. It is important to inquire into the scriptural use of the term heart. The term, like most others, is used in the Bible in various senses. The heart is often spoken of in the Bible, not only as possessing moral character, but as being the source of moral action, or as the fountain from which good and evil actions flow, and of course as constituting the fountain of holiness or of sin, or, in other words still, as comprehending, strictly speaking, the whole of moral character. "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."--Matt. xv. 18, 19. "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things."--Matt. xii. 34, 35. When the heart is thus represented as possessing moral character, and as the fountain of good and evil, it cannot mean,--

It is also represented as something over which we have control, for which we are responsible, and which, in case it is wicked, we are bound to change on pain of death. Again: the heart, in the sense in which we are considering it, is that, the radical change of which constitutes a radical change of moral character. This is plain from Matthew xii. 34, 35, and xv. 18, 19, already considered.
Regeneration then is a radical change of the ultimate intention, and, of course, of the end or object of life. We have seen, that the choice of an end is efficient in producing executive volitions, or the use of means to obtain its end. A selfish ultimate choice is, therefore, a wicked heart, out of which flows every evil; and a benevolent ultimate choice is a good heart, out of which flows every good and commendable deed.

Regeneration, to have the characteristics ascribed to it in the Bible, must consist in a change in the attitude of the will, or a change in its ultimate choice, intention, or preference; a change from selfishness to benevolence; from choosing self-gratification as the supreme and ultimate end of life to the supreme and ultimate choice of the highest well-being of God and of the universe; from a state of entire consecration to self-interest, self-indulgence, self-gratification for its own sake or as an end, and as the supreme end of life, to a state of entire consecration to God, and to the interests of his kingdom as the supreme and ultimate end of life.

VI. The universal necessity of regeneration.

VII. Agencies employed in regeneration.

Again: an apostle says, "Ye have purified your souls by obeying the truth." Here the work is ascribed to the subject. There are then always two, and generally more than two agents employed in effecting the work. Several theologians have held that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. In proof of this they cite those passages that ascribe it to God. But I might just as lawfully insist that it is the work of man alone, and quote those passages that ascribe it to man, to substantiate my position. Or I might assert that it is alone the work of the subject, and in proof of this position quote those passages that ascribe it to the subject. Or again, I might assert that it is effected by the truth alone, and quote such passages as the following to substantiate my position: "Of his own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures."--James i. 18. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."--1 Peter i. 23. The fact is, when Dr. Woods and others insist that regeneration is the work, or a work of God, they tell the truth, but not the whole truth. For it is also the work of man and of the subject. Their course is precisely like that of the Unitarian, who when he would prove that Christ is not God, merely proves that he was a man. Now we admit that he was a man, but we hold that he is more, that he is also God. Just so we hold that God is active in promoting regeneration, and we hold also that the subject always and necessarily is active in the work, and that generally some other human agency is employed in the work, in presenting and urging the claims of God.

It has been common to regard the third person as a mere instrument in the work. But the fact is, he is a willing, designing, responsible agent, as really so as God or the subject is.

If it be inquired how the Bible can consistently ascribe regeneration at one time to God, at another to the subject, at another to the truth, at another to a third person; the answer is to be sought in the nature of the work. The work accomplished is a change of choice, in respect to an end or the end of life. The sinner whose choice is changed, must of course act. The end to be chosen must be clearly and forcibly presented: this is the work of the third person, and of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit takes of the things of Christ and shows them to the soul. The truth is employed, or it is truth which must necessarily be employed, as an instrument to induce a change of choice. See this illustrated in Sermons on Important Subjects, Sermon I. on Regeneration.

VIII. Instrumentalities employed in the work.

Those who hold to physical or constitutional moral depravity must hold, of course, to constitutional regeneration; and, of course, consistency compels them to maintain that there is but one agent employed in regeneration, and that is the Holy Spirit, and that no instrument whatever is employed, because the work is, according to them, an act of creative power; that the very nature is changed, and of course no instrument can be employed, any more than in the creation of the world. These theologians have affirmed, over and over again, that regeneration is a miracle; that there is no tendency whatever in the gospel, however presented, and whether presented by God or man, to regenerate the heart. Dr. Griffin, in his Park Street Lectures, maintains that the gospel, in its natural and necessary tendency, creates and perpetuates only opposition to, and hatred of God, until the heart is changed by the Holy Spirit. He understands the carnal mind to be not a voluntary state, not a minding of the flesh, but the very nature and constitution of the mind; and that enmity against God is a part, attribute, or appetite of the nature itself. Consequently, he must deny the adaptability of the gospel to regenerate the soul. It has been proclaimed by this class of theologians, times without number, that there is no philosophical connexion between the preaching of the gospel and the regeneration of sinners, no adaptedness in the gospel to produce that result; but, on the contrary, that it is adapted to produce an opposite result. The favourite illustrations of their views have been Ezekiel's prophesying over the dry bones, and Christ's restoring sight to the blind man by putting clay on his eyes. Ezekiel's prophesying over the dry bones had no tendency to quicken them, they say. And the clay used by the Saviour was calculated rather to destroy than to restore sight. This shows how easy it is for men to adopt a pernicious and absurd philosophy, and then find, or think they find, it supported by the Bible. What must be the effect of inculcating the dogma, that the gospel has nothing to do with regenerating the sinner? Instead of telling him that regeneration is nothing else than his embracing the gospel, to tell him that he must wait, and first have his constitution recreated before he can possibly do anything but oppose God? This is to tell him the greatest and most abominable and ruinous of falsehoods. It is to mock his intelligence. What! call on him, on pain of eternal death, to believe; to embrace the gospel; to love God with all his heart, and at the same time represent him as entirely helpless, and constitutionally the enemy of God and of the gospel, and as being under the necessity of waiting for God to regenerate his nature, before it is possible for him to do otherwise than to hate God with all his heart?

IX. In regeneration the subject is both passive and active.

X. What is implied in regeneration.

Again: the Bible represents regeneration as a dying to sin and becoming alive to God. Death in sin is total depravity. This is generally admitted. Death to sin and becoming alive to God, must imply entire present holiness.
Again: the scripture requires only perseverance in the first love, as the condition of salvation, in case the regenerate soul should live long in the world subsequently to regeneration.

This lecture was typed in by Vic Johanson.




Different classes of theologians have held very different theories in regard to the philosophy of regeneration, in accordance with their views of moral depravity, of intellectual philosophy, moral government, and of the freedom of the human will. In discussing this subject I will--

1. State the different theories of regeneration that have been held by different classes of theologians, as I understand them; and--

2. Examine them in their order.

(1.) The taste scheme. (2.) The divine efficiency scheme. (3.) The susceptibility scheme. (4.) The divine moral suasion scheme.
1. The taste scheme.

(i.) This theory is based upon the view of mental philosophy which regards the mental heart as identical with the sensibility. Moral depravity, according to this school, consists in a constitutional relish, taste, or craving for sin. They hold the doctrine of original sin--of a sinful nature or constitution, as was shown in my lectures on moral depravity. The heart of the mind, in the estimation of this school, is not identical with choice or intention. They hold that it does not consist in any voluntary state of mind, but that it lies back of, and controls voluntary action, or the actions of the will. The wicked heart, according to them, consists in an appetency or constitutional taste for sin, and with them, the appetites, passions, and propensities of human nature in its fallen state, are in themselves sinful. They often illustrate their ideas of the sinful taste, craving, or appetite for sin, by reference to the craving of carnivorous animals for flesh. Of course,--

(ii.) A change of heart, in the view of this philosophy, must consist in a change of constitution. It must be a physical change, and wrought by a physical, as distinguished from a moral agency. It is a change wrought by the direct and physical power of the Holy Spirit in the constitution of the soul, changing its susceptibilities, implanting or creating a new taste, relish, appetite, craving for, or love of, holiness. It is, as they express it, the implantation of a new principle of holiness. It is described as a creation of a new taste or principle, as an infusion of a holy principle, &c. This scheme, of course, holds and teaches that, in regeneration, the subject is entirely passive. With this school, regeneration is exclusively the work of the Holy Spirit, the subject having no agency in it. It is an operation performed upon him, may be, while he is asleep, or in a fit of derangement, while he is entirely passive, or perhaps when at the moment he is engaged in flagrant rebellion against God. The agency by which this work is wrought, according to them, is sovereign, irresistible, and creative. They hold that there are of course no means of regeneration, as it is a direct act of creation. They hold the distinction already referred to and examined, between regeneration and conversion; that when the Holy Spirit has performed the sovereign operation, and implanted the new principle, then the subject is active in conversion, or in turning to God.

They hold that the soul, in its very nature, is enmity against God; that therefore the gospel has no tendency to regenerate or convert the soul to God; but, on the contrary, that previous to regeneration by the sovereign and physical agency of the Holy Spirit, every exhibition of God made in the gospel, tends only to inflame and provoke this constitutional enmity.

They hold, that when the sinful taste, relish, or craving for sin is weakened, for they deny that it is ever wholly destroyed in this life, or while the soul continues connected with the body, and a holy taste, relish, or craving is implanted or infused by the Holy Spirit into the constitution of the soul, then, and not till then, the gospel has a tendency to turn or convert the sinner from the error of his ways.

As I have said, their philosophy of moral depravity is the basis of their philosophy of regeneration. It assumes the dogma of original sin, as taught in the Presbyterian Confession of Faith, and attempts to harmonize the philosophy of regeneration with that philosophy of sin, or moral depravity.

Upon this scheme or theory of regeneration, I remark,--

((i.)) That it has been sufficiently refuted in the lectures on moral depravity. If, as was then shown, moral depravity is altogether voluntary, and consists in selfishness, or in a voluntary state of mind, this philosophy of regeneration is of course without foundation.

((ii.)) It was shown in the lectures on moral depravity, that sin is not chosen for its own sake,--that there is no constitutional relish, taste, or craving for sin,--that in sinful choice, sin is not the end or object chosen, but that self-gratification is chosen, and that this choice is sinful. If this is so, then the whole philosophy of the taste scheme turns out to be utterly baseless.

((iii.)) The taste, relish, or craving, of which this philosophy speaks, is not a taste, relish, or craving for sin, but for certain things and objects, the enjoyment of which is, to a certain extent, and upon certain conditions, lawful. But when the will prefers the gratification of taste or appetite to higher interests, this choice or act of will is sin. The sin never lies in the appetite, but in the will's consent to unlawful indulgence.

((iv.)) This philosophy confounds appetite or temptation to unlawful indulgence, with sin. Nay, it represents sin as consisting mostly, if not altogether, in that which is only temptation.

((v.)) It is, as we have seen, inconsistent with the Bible definition both of sin and of regeneration.

((vi.)) It is also inconsistent with the justice of the command, so solemnly given to sinners, "Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will ye die?"

((vii.)) It also contradicts the Bible representation, that men regenerate each other. "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."--1 Cor. iv. 15.

((viii.)) It throws the blame of unregeneracy upon God. If the sinner is passive, and has no agency in it; if it consists in what this philosophy teaches, and is accomplished in the manner which this theory represents, it is self-evident that God alone is responsible for the fact, that any sinner is unregenerate.

((ix.)) It represents regeneration as a miracle. This is affirmed.

((x.)) It renders holiness after regeneration physically necessary, just as sin was before, and perseverance also as physically necessary, and falling from grace as a natural impossibility. In this case holy exercises and living are only the gratification of a constitutional appetite, implanted in regeneration.

((xi.)) It renders perseverance in holiness no virtue, as it is only self-gratification, or the gratification of appetite.

((xii.)) It is the assumption of a philosophy at war with the Bible.

((xiii.)) Upon this theory regeneration would destroy personal identity.

Let us consider next,--

(2.) The divine efficiency scheme or theory.

This scheme is based upon, or rather is only a carrying out of, an ancient heathen philosophy, bearing the same name. This ancient philosophy denies second causes, and teaches that what we call laws of nature are nothing else than the mode of divine operation. It denies that the universe would even exist for a moment, if the divine upholding were withdrawn. It maintains that the universe exists only by an act of present and perpetual creation. It denies that matter, or mind, has in itself any inherent properties that can originate laws or motions; that all action, whether of matter or mind, is the necessary result of direct divine irresistible efficiency or power; that this is not only true of the natural universe, but also of all the exercises and actions of moral agents in all worlds.

The abettors of the divine efficiency scheme of regeneration apply this philosophy especially to moral agents. They hold, that all the exercises and actions of moral agents in all worlds, and whether those exercises be holy or sinful, are produced by a divine efficiency, or by a direct act of Omnipotence; that holy and sinful acts are alike effects of an irresistible cause, and that this cause is the power and agency, or efficiency, of God.

This philosophy denies constitutional moral depravity, or original sin, and maintains that moral character belongs alone to the exercises or choices of the will; that regeneration does not consist in the creation of any new taste, relish, or craving, nor in the implantation or infusion of any new principles in the soul: but that it consists in a choice conformed to the law of God, or in a change from selfishness to disinterested benevolence; that this change is effected by a direct act of Divine power or efficiency, as irresistible as any creative act whatever. This philosophy teaches, that the moral character of every moral agent, whether holy or sinful, is formed by an agency as direct, as sovereign, and as irresistible, as that which first gave existence to the universe; that true submission to God implies the hearty consent of the will to have the character thus formed, and then to be treated accordingly, for the glory of God. The principal arguments by which this theory is supported, so far as I am acquainted with them, are as follow:--

(i.) The Bible, its advocates say, teaches it in those texts that teach the doctrine of a universal and particular providence, and that God is present in all events; such, for example, as the following:--"The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord."--Prov. xvi. 33. "Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us; for thou also hast wrought all our works in us."--Isa. xxvi. 12. "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things."--Isa. xlv. 7. "And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?"--Dan. iv. 35. "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people be not afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?"--Amos iii. 6. "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen."--Rom. xi. 36. "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."--Eph. i. 11. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."--Philip. ii. 13. "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."--Heb. xiii. 20, 21.

These may serve as a specimen of the proofs of this theory cited from holy scripture, and upon which great stress is laid by its defenders.

Concerning these I would remark:--

(a.) That they prove nothing to the point. The question in debate is not whether God is, or is not, in some sense, present in every event, or whether there be not some sense in which everything may be ascribed to the providence and agency of God, for this their opponents admit and maintain. But the true question at issue respects only the quo modo of the divine agency, of which these passages say nothing. It is neither affirmed nor implied in these passages, nor in any other, that God is the direct, efficient, irresistible agent in all those cases.

(b.) Other passages abundantly imply and affirm that he is not the direct, efficient, and irresistible agent in the production of moral evil. For example: "Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incence unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?" Jer. vii. 14. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James i. 13-17. "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." James iii. 14-17.

These passages plainly teach and imply that God's agency, to say the least, in the production of sin, is not direct, efficient, irresistible. Their scripture argument then proves nothing to the purpose of their philosophy.

(ii.) Another argument by which the divine efficiency scheme has been sustained is that divine foreknowledge implies it.

This is an assumption without the shadow of proof.

(iii.) Third argument: The divine purposes imply it.

This is also a sheer assumption.

(iv.) Fourth argument: Prophecy, or the foretelling of future events, implies it.

This again is assumption without proof. These arguments assume, that God could not know what future events would be, especially what the free actions of men would be, unless he produces and controls them by a direct and irresistible efficiency.

(v.) Fifth argument: The Bible ascribes both the holy and sinful actions of man to God, and in equally unqualified terms.

This settles nothing of the quo modo, or the sense in which it does so, in either case.

(vi.) It is admitted, say some, that holy actions are produced by a direct divine efficiency; and as the Bible ascribes the sinful actions of men to God in as unqualified terms as holy ones, we have no right to infer a difference in the quo modo of his doing it.

We are not only allowed, but are bound to infer that his agency is different in the one case, from what it is in the other. The Bible has, as we shall see, settled the philosophy, or the manner in which he produces holy exercises in moral agents. It also everywhere assumes or affirms, that he is concerned only providentially in the permission of sin; that sin is an abuse of his providence, and of the liberty of moral agents.

(vii.) It has been assumed, that it is naturally impossible for God to create a being that should have the power of originating his own actions.

This is surely an assumption, and of no weight whatever. It certainly is not an affirmation of reason; and I cannot see any ground for such an affirmation. Human consciousness is against it.

(viii.) It has been asserted, that if such a creature existed, he would be independent of God, in such a sense, that God could neither certainly control him, nor know what he would do.

This is a mere begging of the question. How can this be known? This argument assumes that even Omniscience cannot know how a free moral agent would act upon condition of his originating his own choices, intentions, and actions. But why this assumption?

To this theory I make the following objections:--

((i.)) It is mere philosophy, and that falsely so called.

((ii.)) It is supported, so far as I can see, only by the most unwarrantable assumptions.

((iii.)) Its tendency condemns it.

(a.) It tends to produce and perpetuate a sense of divine injustice. To create a character by an agency as direct and irresistible as that of the creation of the world itself, and then treat moral beings according to that character so formed, is wholly inconsistent with all our ideas of justice.

(b.) It destroys a sense of accountability, or tends to destroy it.

(c.) It contradicts human consciousness. I know it is said, that consciousness only gives our mental actions and states, but not the cause of them. This I deny, and affirm that consciousness not only gives us our mental actions and states, but it also gives us the cause of them, especially it gives the fact, that we ourselves are the sovereign and efficient causes of the choices and actions of our will. In our passive states we can almost always recognize the cause of these phenomena. At least we can very often do so. I am as conscious of originating in a sovereign manner my choices, as I am of the choices themselves.

(d.) This theory virtually denies, or rather stultifies, the eternal distinction between liberty and necessity.

(e.) If this theory were true, with our present consciousness, we cannot believe it. We cannot but affirm to ourselves, that we are the efficient causes of our own choices and volitions.

(f.) The philosophy in question, really represents God as the only agent, in any proper sense of that term, in the universe. If God produces the exercises of moral beings in the manner represented by this philosophy, then they are in fact no more agents than the planets are agents. If their exercises are all directly produced by the power of God, it is ridiculous to call them agents.

(g.) If this theory be true, what we generally call moral beings and moral agents, are no more so than the winds and the waves, or any other substance or thing in the universe.

(h.) Again: if this theory be true, no being but God has, or can have, moral character. No other being is the author of his own actions. He is the subject, but not the author of his actions. He is the passive subject, but not the active efficient cause of his own exercises. To affirm moral character of such a passive subject is truly ridiculous.

(i.) This theory obliges its advocates, together with all other necessitarians, to give a false and nonsensical definition of free agency. Free agency, according to them, consists in doing as we will, while their theory denies the power to will, except as our willings are necessitated by God. But as we have seen in former lectures, this is no true account of freedom, or liberty. Liberty to execute my choices is no liberty at all. Choice is connected with its sequents by a law of necessity; and if an effect follow my volitions, that effect follows by necessity, and not freely. All freedom of will must, as was formerly shown, consist in the sovereign power to originate our own choices. If I am unable to will, I am unable to do any thing; and it is absurd and ridiculous to affirm, that a being is a moral or a free agent, who has not power to originate his own choices.

(j.) If this theory is true, God is more than the accomplice of the devil; for--

(I.) Satan cannot tempt us according to this theory, unless God by a direct divine efficiency, moves him and compels him to do so.

(II.) Then, we cannot possibly yield to his temptation, except as God compels us to yield, or creates the yielding within us. This is a blasphemous theory surely, that represents God as doing such things. That a philosophy like this could ever have been taught, will appear incredible to many. But such is the fact, and such the true statement of the views of this class of theologians, if I can understand them.

(k.) But this theory is inconsistent with the Bible, as we have seen.

(l.) It is also inconsistent with itself, for it both affirms and denies natural ability. Its advocates admit, that we cannot act except as we will, and affirm that we cannot will, except as our willings are created by a direct Divine efficiency. How absurd then is it to maintain, that we have natural ability to do anything. All that can truly be said of us, upon the principles of this theory, is that we have a susceptibility to be acted upon, and to be rendered the subjects of certain states, immediately and irresistibly created by the power of God. But it is absurd to call this a natural ability to do our duty.

(m.) If this theory is true, the whole moral government of God is no government at all, distinct from, and superior to, physical government. Then the gospel is an insult to men, in two respects, at least:--

(I.) Upon this theory men do not, cannot deserve punishment, nor require a Saviour from it.

(II.) If they do, the gospel is presented and urged upon their acceptance, when, in fact, they have no more power to accept it, than they have to create a world.

(n.) Again: this theory overlooks and virtually denies the fundamentally important distinction between moral and physical power, and moral and physical government. All power and all government, upon this theory, are physical.

(o.) Again: this theory renders repentance, remorse, and self-condemnation impossible, as a rational exercise.

(p.) This theory involves the delusion of all moral beings. God not only creates our volitions, but also creates the persuasion and affirmation that we are responsible for them. O, shame on such a theory as this!

(3.) Let us proceed now to notice the susceptibility scheme.

(i.) What this theory is.

This theory represents, that the Holy Spirit's influences are both physical and moral; that he, by a direct and physical influence, excites the susceptibilities of the soul and prepares them to be affected by the truth; that he, thereupon, exerts a moral or persuasive influence by presenting the truth, which moral influence induces regeneration.

(ii.) Wherein this and the Divine moral suasion theory agree.

(a.) In rejecting the taste and Divine efficiency schemes.

(b.) In rejecting the dogma of constitutional moral depravity.

(c.) In rejecting the dogma of physical regeneration; for be it remembered, that this theory teaches that the physical influence exerted in exciting the susceptibilities is no part of regeneration.

(d.) They agree in maintaining the natural ability or liberty of all moral agents.

(e.) That the constitutional appetites and passions have no moral character in themselves.

(f.) That when strongly excited they are the occasions of sin.

(g.) That sin and moral depravity are identical, and that they consist in a violation of the moral law.

(h.) That the moral heart is the ruling preference or ultimate intention of the mind.

(i.) That the carnal mind, or heart, is selfishness.

(j.) That the new or regenerate heart is benevolence.

(k.) That regeneration consists in a change from selfishness to benevolence, or from the supreme love of self, to the supreme love of God, and the equal love of our neighbour.

(l.) That this change is effected through the truth presented by the Holy Spirit, or by a Divine moral persuasion.

(iii.) Wherein they differ.

This philosophy maintains the necessity and the fact of a physical influence superadded to the moral or persuasive influence of the Holy Spirit, as a sine quà non of regeneration. The Divine moral suasion theory regards regeneration as being induced alone by a moral influence. This theory also admits and maintains, that regeneration is effected solely by a moral influence, but also that a work preparatory to the efficiency of the moral influence, and indispensable to its efficiency, in producing regeneration, is performed by a direct and physical agency of the Holy Spirit upon the constitutional susceptibilities of the soul, to quicken and wake it up, and predispose it to be deeply and duly affected by the truth. The arguments by which that part of this theory which relates to a physical influence of the Holy Spirit is supported, are, so far as I am acquainted with them, as follows:--

(a.) It is maintained by the defenders of this scheme, that the representations of the Bible upon the subject of the Holy Spirit's agency in regeneration, are such as to forbid the supposition, that his influence is altogether moral or persuasive, and such as plainly to indicate that he also exerts a physical agency, in preparing the mind to be duly effected by the truth. In reply to this argument, I observe,--

((i.)) That I fear greatly to disparage the agency of the Holy Spirit in the work of man's redemption from sin, and would, by no means, resist or deny, or so much as call in question, anything that is plainly taught or implied in the Bible upon this subject.

((ii.)) I admit and maintain that regeneration is always induced and effected by the personal agency of the Holy Spirit. The question now before us relates wholly to the mode, and not at all to the fact, of the divine agency in regeneration. Let this be distinctly understood, for it has been common for theologians of the old school, as soon as the dogma of a physical regeneration, and of a physical influence in regeneration, has been called in question, to cry out and insist that this is Pelagianism, and that it is a denial of divine influence altogether, and that it is teaching a self-regeneration, independent of any divine influence. I have been ashamed of such representations as these on the part of Christian divines, and have been distressed by their want of candour. It should, however, be distinctly stated that, so far as I know, the defenders of the theory now under consideration have never manifested this want of candour towards those who have called in question that part of their theory that relates to a physical influence.

((iii.)) Since the advocates of this theory admit that the Bible teaches that regeneration is induced by a divine moral suasion, the point of debate is simply, whether the Bible teaches that there is also a physical influence exerted by the Holy Spirit, in exciting the constitutional susceptibilities. We will now attend to their proof texts. "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures."--Luke xxiv. 45. It is affirmed, that this text seems to teach or imply a physical influence in opening their understandings. But what do we mean by such language as this in common life? Language is to be understood according to the subject-matter of discourse. Here the subject of discourse is the understanding. But what can be intended by opening it? Can this be a physical prying, pulling, or forcing open any department of the constitution? Such language in common life would be understood only to mean, that such instruction was imparted as to secure a right understanding of the Scriptures. Every one knows this, and why should we suppose and assume that anything more is intended here? The context plainly indicates that this was the thing, and the only thing, done in this case. "Then he said unto them, O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.--And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day."--Luke xxiv. 25-27, 46. From these verses it appears that he expounded the Scriptures to them, when in the light of what had passed, and in the light of that measure of divine illumination which was then imparted to them, they understood the things which he explained to them. It does not seem to me, that this passage warrants the inference that there was a physical influence exerted. It certainly affirms no such thing. "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."--Acts xvi. 14. Here is an expression similar to that just examined. Here it is said, "that the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, so that she attended," &c.; that is, the Lord inclined her to attend. But how? Why, say the advocates of this scheme, by a physical influence. But how does this appear? What is her heart that it should be pulled, or forced open? and what can be intended by the assertion, "that the Lord opened her heart?" All that can be meant is, that the Lord secured her attention, or disposed her to attend, and so enlightened her when she did attend, that she believed. Surely here is no assertion of a physical influence, nor, so far as I can see, any just ground for the inference, that such an influence was exerted. A moral influence can sufficiently explain all the phenomena; and any text that can equally well consist with either of two opposing theories, can prove neither.

Again: there are many passages that represent God as opening the spiritual eyes, and passages in which petitions are offered to God to do this. It is by this theory assumed that such passages strongly imply a physical influence. But this assumption appears to me unwarrantable. We are in the habit of using just such language, and speak of opening each other's eyes, when no such thing is intended or implied, as a physical influence, and when nothing more than a moral or persuasive influence is so much as thought of. Why then resort to such an assumption here? Does the nature of the case demand it? This I know is contended for by those who maintain a constitutional moral depravity. But this dogma has been shown to be false, and it is admitted to be so by those who maintain the theory now under consideration. Admitting, then, that the constitution is not morally depraved, should it be inferred that any constitutional change, or physical influence is needed to produce regeneration? I can see no sufficient reason for believing, or affirming, that a physical influence is either demanded or exerted. This much I freely admit, that we cannot affirm the impossibility of such an influence, nor the impossibility of the necessity of such an influence. The only question with me is, does the Bible plainly teach or imply such an influence? Hitherto I have been unable to see that it does. The passages already quoted are of a piece with all that are relied upon in support of this theory, and as the same answer is a sufficient reply to them all, I will not spend time in citing and remarking upon them.

(b.) Again: A physical influence has been inferred from the fact, that sinners are represented as dead in trespasses and sins, as asleep, &c. &c. But all such representations are only declaratory of a moral state, a state of voluntary alienation from God. If the death is moral, and the sleep moral, why suppose that a physical influence is needed to correct a moral evil? Cannot truth, when urged and pressed by the Holy Spirit, effect the requisite change?

(c.) But a physical influence is also inferred from the fact, that truth makes so different an impression at one time from what it does at another. Answer: this can well enough be accounted for by the fact, that sometimes the Holy Spirit so presents the truth, that the mind apprehends it and feels its power, whereas at another time he does not.

(d.) But it is said, that there sometimes appears to have been a preparatory work performed by a physical influence pre-disposing the mind to attend to, and be affected by, the truth. Answer: there often is no doubt a preparatory work pre-disposing the mind to attend to, and be affected by, truth. But why assume that this is a physical influence? Providential occurrences may have had much to do with it. The Holy Spirit may have been directing the thoughts and communicating instructions in various ways, and preparing the mind to attend and obey. Who then is warranted in the affirmation that this preparatory influence is physical? I admit that it may be, but I cannot see either that it must be, or that there is any good ground for the assumption that it is.

(4.) The last theory to be examined is that of a Divine moral suasion.

This theory teaches--

(i.) That regeneration consists in a change in the ultimate intention or preference of the mind, or in a change from selfishness to disinterested benevolence; and--

(ii.) That this change is induced and effected by a divine moral influence; that is, that the Holy Spirit effects it with, through, or by the truth. The advocates of this theory assign the following as the principal reasons in support of it.

(a.) The Bible expressly affirms it. "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."--John iii. 5, 6. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."--1 Pet. i. 23. "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures."--James i. 18. "For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel."--1 Cor. iv. 15.

(b.) Men are represented as being sanctified by and through the truth. "Sanctify them through the truth: thy word is truth."--John xvii. 17. "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."--John xv. 3.

(c.) The nature of regeneration decides the philosophy of it so far as this, that it must be effected by truth, addressed to the heart through the intelligence.

(d.) Unless it is so effected, it has no moral character.

(e.) The regenerate are conscious of having been influenced by the truth in turning to God.

(f.) They are conscious of no other influence than light poured upon the intelligence, or truth presented to the mind.

(g.) When God affirms that he regenerates the soul with or by the truth, we have no right to infer that he does it in some other way. This he does affirm; therefore the Bible has settled the philosophy of regeneration. That he exerts any other than a moral influence, or the influence of Divine teaching and illumination, is sheer assumption.

To this theory the following objections have been made.

Objection. 1. ((i.)) To represent sinners as regenerated by the influence of truth, although presented and urged by the Holy Spirit, is virtually to deny total depravity. To this it is answered--

(a.) It does indeed deny constitutional moral depravity, and therefore constitutional or physical regeneration.

(b.) Adam and the sinning angels were changed or regenerated from perfect holiness to perfect sinfulness, by motives presented to them, at least Adam was. Now, if they could be regenerated from entire holiness to entire sinfulness by a moral influence, or by means of a lie, is it impossible that God should convert sinners by means of truth? Has God so much less moral power than Satan has?

(c.) To this it may be replied, that it is much easier to convert or regenerate men from holiness to sin, than from sin to holiness.

(I.) This, I answer, seems to reflect upon the wisdom and goodness of God, in forming the human constitution.

(II.) Should the fact be granted, still it may truly be urged, that the motives to holiness are infinitely greater than those to sin, so that the Holy Spirit has altogether the advantage in this respect.

Objection. 2. ((ii.)) If sinners are regenerated by the light of the truth, they may be regenerated in hell, as they will there know the truth.

(a.) The Bible, I answer, represents the wicked in hell, as being in darkness, and not in the light of the truth.

(b.) The truth will not be presented and urged home there by the persuasive Spirit of God.

(c.) The gospel motives will be wanting there. The offer of pardon and acceptance, which is indispensable to induce repentance and obedience, will not be made there. Therefore sinners will not be converted in hell.


This lecture was typed in by Vic Johanson.




In the discussion of this subject I will--




1. Introductory remarks.

(1.) In ascertaining what are, and what are not, evidences of regeneration, we must constantly keep in mind what is not, and what is regeneration; what is not, and what is implied in it.

(2.) We must constantly recognize the fact, that saints and sinners have precisely similar constitutions and constitutional susceptibilities, and therefore that many things are common to both.

(3.) What is common to both cannot, of course, be an evidence of regeneration.

(4.) That no state of the sensibility has any moral character in itself. That regeneration does not consist in, or imply, any physical change whatever, either of the intellect, sensibility, or the faculty of will.

(5.) That the sensibility of the sinner is susceptible of every kind and degree of feeling that is possible to saints.

(6.) The same is true of the consciences of both saints and sinners, and of the intelligence generally.

(7.) That moral character belongs to the ultimate intention.

(8.) That regeneration consists in a change of the ultimate intention.

(9.) That the moral character is as the ultimate intention is.

(10.) The inquiry is, What are evidences of a change in the ultimate intention? What is evidence that benevolence is the ruling choice, preference, intention of the soul?

This, it would seem, must be a plain question, and must admit of a very easy and satisfactory answer.

It is a plain question, and demands, and may have, a plain answer. But so much error prevails as to the nature of regeneration, and, consequently, as to what are evidences of regeneration, that we need patience, discrimination, and perseverance, and withal candour to get at the truth upon this subject.

2. Wherein the experience and outward life of saints and sinners may agree.

It is plain that they may be alike; in whatever does not consist in, or necessarily proceed from, the attitude of their will, that is, in whatever is constitutional or involuntary. For example--

(1). They may both desire their own happiness. This desire is constitutional, and, of course, common to both saints and sinners.

(2.) They may both desire the happiness of others. This also is constitutional, and of course common to both saints and sinners. There is no moral character in these desires, any more than there is in the desire for food and drink. That men have a natural desire for the happiness of others, is evident from the fact that they manifest pleasure when others are happy, unless they have some selfish reason for envy, or unless the happiness of others is in some way inconsistent with their own. They also manifest uneasiness and pain when they see others in misery, unless they have some selfish reason for desiring their misery.

(3.) Saints and sinners may alike dread their own misery, and the misery of others. This is strictly constitutional and has therefore no moral character. I have known that very wicked men, and men who had been infidels, when they were convinced of the truths of Christianity, manifested great concern about their families and about their neighbours; and, in one instance, I heard of an aged man of this description who, when convinced of the truth, went and warned his neighbours to flee from the wrath to come, avowing at the same time his conviction, that there was no mercy for him, though he felt deeply concerned for others. Such like cases have repeatedly been witnessed. The case of the rich man in hell seems to have been one of this description, or to have illustrated the same truth. Although he knew his own case to be hopeless, yet he desired that Lazarus should be sent to warn his five brethren, lest they also should come to that place of torment. In this case, and in the case of the aged man just named, it appears that they not only desired that others should avoid misery, but they actually tried to prevent it, and used the means that were in their reach to save them. Now it is plain that this desire took control of their will, and, of course, the state of the will was selfish. It sought to gratify desire. It was the pain and dread of seeing their misery, and of having them miserable, that led them to use means to prevent it. This was not benevolence, but selfishness. It no doubt increases the misery of sinners in hell to have their number multiplied, that is, they being moral agents, cannot but be unutterably pained to behold the wretchedness around them. This may, and doubtless will, make up a great part of the misery of devils and of wicked men, the beholding to all eternity the misery which they have occasioned. They will not only be filled with remorse, but undoubtedly their souls will be unutterably agonized with the misery they will behold around them.

Let it be understood, then, that as both saints and sinners constitutionally desire, not only their own happiness, but also the happiness of others, they may alike rejoice in the happiness and safety of others, and in converts to Christianity, and may alike grieve at the danger and misery of those who are unconverted. I well recollect, when far from home, and while an impenitent sinner, I received a letter from my youngest brother, informing me that he was converted to God. He, if he was converted, was, as I supposed, the first and only member of the family who then had a hope of salvation. I was at the time, and both before and after, one of the most careless sinners, and yet on receiving this intelligence, I actually wept for joy and gratitude, that one of so prayerless a family was likely to be saved.

Indeed, I have repeatedly known sinners to manifest much interest in the conversion of their friends, and express gratitude for their conversion, although they had no religion themselves. These desires have no moral character in themselves. In as far as they control the will, the will yielding to impulse instead of the law of the intelligence, this, is selfishness.

(4.) Saints and sinners may agree in desiring their own sanctification and the sanctification of others. Both may desire their own sanctification as the condition of their salvation. They may also desire the sanctification of others, as the condition of their salvation.

(5.) Saints and sinners may both desire to be useful, as a condition of their own salvation.

(6.) They may also desire that others should be useful, as a condition of their salvation.

(7.) They may both desire to glorify God, as a means or condition of their own salvation.

(8.) They may also desire to have others glorify God, as a means of their salvation. These desires are natural and constitutional, when the salvation either of ourselves or others is felt to be important, and when these things are seen to be conditions of salvation.

(9.) They may both desire, and strongly desire, a revival of religion and the prosperity of Zion, as a means of promoting their own salvation, or the salvation of their friends. Sinners have often been known to desire revivals of religion.

(10.) They may agree in desiring the triumph of truth and righteousness, and the suppression of vice and error, for the sake of the bearings of these things on self and friends. These desires are constitutional and natural to both, under certain circumstances. When they do not influence the will, they have in themselves no moral character; but when they influence the will, their selfishness takes on a religious type. It then manifests zeal in promoting religion. But if desire, and not the intelligence, controls the will, it is selfishness notwithstanding.

(11.) Moral agents constitutionally approve of what is right, and disapprove of what is wrong. Of course, both saints and sinners may both approve of and delight in goodness. I can recollect weeping at an instance of what, at the time, I supposed to be goodness, while, at the same time, I was not religious myself. I have no doubt that wicked men, not only often are conscious of strongly approving the goodness of God, but that they also often take delight in contemplating it. This is constitutional, both as it respects the intellectual approbation, and also as it respects the feeling of delight. It is a great mistake to suppose that sinners are never conscious of feelings of complacency and delight in the goodness of God. The Bible represents sinners as taking delight in drawing near to him. "Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God."--Isa. lviii. 2. "And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not."--Ezek. xxxiii. 32. "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man."--Rom. vii. 22.

(12.) Saints and sinners may alike not only intellectually approve, but have feelings of deep complacency in the characters of good men, sometimes good men of their own time and of their acquaintance, but more frequently good men either of a former age, or, if of their own age, of a distant country. The reason is this: good men of their own day and neighbourhood are very apt to render them uneasy in their sins; to annoy them by their faithful reproofs and rebukes. This offends them, and overcomes their natural respect for goodness. But who has not observed the fact that good and bad men unite in praising, admiring, and loving,--so far as feeling is concerned--good men of by-gone days, or good men at a distance, whose life and rebukes have annoyed the wicked in their own neighbourhood? The fact is, that moral agents, from the laws of their being, necessarily approve of goodness wherever they witness it. And when not annoyed by it, when left to contemplate it in the abstract, or at a distance, they cannot but feel a complacency in it. Multitudes of sinners are conscious of this, and suppose that this is a virtuous feeling. It is of no use to deny, that they sometimes have feelings of love and gratitude to God, and of respect for, and complacency in, good men. They often have these feelings, and to represent them as always having feelings of hatred and of opposition to God and to good men, is sure either to offend them, or to lead them to deny the truths of religion, if they are told that the Bible teaches this. Or, again, it may lead them to think themselves Christians, because they are conscious of such feelings as they are taught to believe are peculiar to Christians. Or again, they may think that, although they are not Christians, yet they are far from being totally depraved, inasmuch as they have so many good desires and feelings. It should never be forgotten, that saints and sinners may agree in their opinions and intellectual views and judgments. Many professors of religion, it is to be feared, have supposed religion to consist in desires and feelings, and have entirely mistaken their own character. Indeed, nothing is more common than to hear religion spoken of as consisting altogether in mere feelings, desires, and emotions. Professors relate their feelings, and suppose themselves to be giving an account of their religion. It is infinitely important, that both professors of religion and non-professors, should understand more than most of them do of their mental constitution, and of the true nature of religion. Multitudes of professors of religion have, it is to be feared, a hope founded altogether upon desires and feelings that are purely constitutional, and therefore common to both saints and sinners.

(13.) Saints and sinners agree in this, that they both disapprove of, and are often disgusted with, and deeply abhor, sin. They cannot but disapprove of sin. Necessity is laid upon every moral agent, whatever his character may be, by the law of his being, to condemn and disapprove of sin. And often the sensibility of sinners, as well as of saints, is filled with deep disgust and loathing in view of sin. I know that representations the direct opposite of these are often made. Sinners are represented as universally having complacency in sin, as having a constitutional craving for sin, as they have for food and drink. But such representations are false and most injurious. They contradict the sinner's consciousness, and lead him either to deny his total depravity, or to deny the Bible, or to think himself regenerate. As was shown when upon the subject of moral depravity, sinners do not love sin for its own sake; but they crave other things, and this leads to prohibited indulgence, which indulgence is sin. But it is not the sinfulness of the indulgence that was desired. That might have produced disgust and loathing in the sensibility, if it had been considered even at the moment of indulgence. For example: suppose a licentious man, a drunkard, a gambler, or any other wicked man, engaged in his favourite indulgence, and suppose that the sinfulness of this indulgence should be strongly set before his mind by the Holy Spirit. He might be deeply ashamed and disgusted with himself, and so much so as to feel a great contempt for himself, and feel almost ready, were it possible, to spit in his own face. And yet, unless this feeling becomes more powerful than the desire and feeling which the will is seeking to indulge, the indulgence will be persevered in, notwithstanding this disgust. If the feeling of disgust should for the time overmatch the opposing desire, the indulgence will be, for the time being, abandoned for the sake of gratifying or appeasing the feeling of disgust. But this is not virtue. It is only a change in the form of selfishness. Feeling still governs, and not the law of the intelligence. The indulgence is only abandoned for the time being, to gratify a stronger impulse of the sensibility. The will, will of course return to the indulgence again, when the feelings of fear, disgust, or loathing subside. This, no doubt, accounts for the multitudes of spurious conversions sometimes witnessed. Sinners are convicted, fears awakened, and disgust and loathing excited. These feelings for the time become stronger than their desire for their former indulgences, and consequently they abandon them for a time, in obedience, not to the law of God or of their intelligence, but in obedience to their fear, disgust, and shame. But when conviction subsides, and the consequent feelings are no more, these spurious converts "return like a dog to his vomit, and like a sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." It should be distinctly understood, that all these feelings of which I have spoken, and indeed any class or degree of mere feelings, may exist in the sensibility; and further, that these or any other feelings may, in their turns, control the will; and produce of course a corresponding outward life, and yet the heart be and remain all the while in a selfish state, or in a state of total depravity. Indeed, it is perfectly common to see the impenitent sinner manifest much disgust and opposition to sin in himself and in others, yet this is not principle in him; it is only the effect of present feeling. The next day, or perhaps hour, he will repeat his sin, or do that which, when beheld in others, enkindled his indignation.

(14.) Both saints and sinners approve of, and often delight in, justice. It is common to see in courts of justice, and on various other occasions, impenitent sinners manifest great complacency in the administration of justice, and the greatest indignation at, and abhorrence of, injustice. So strong is this feeling sometimes that it cannot be restrained, but will burst forth like a smothered volcano, and carry desolation before it. It is this natural love of justice, and abhorrence of injustice, common alike to saints and sinners, to which popular tumults and bloodshed are often to be ascribed. This is not virtue, but selfishness. It is the will giving itself up to the gratification of a constitutional impulse. But such feelings and such conduct are often supposed to be virtuous. It should always be borne in mind that the love of justice, and the sense of delight in it, and the feeling of opposition to injustice, is not only not peculiar to good men, but that such feelings are no evidence whatever of a regenerate heart. Thousands of instances might be adduced as proofs and illustrations of this position. But such manifestations are too common to need to be cited to remind any one of their existence.

(15.) The same remarks may be made in regard to truth. Both saints and sinners have a constitutional respect for, approbation of, and delight in truth. Whoever knew a sinner to approve of the character of a liar? What sinner will not resent it, to be accused or even suspected of lying? All men spontaneously manifest their respect for, complacency in, and approbation of truth. This is constitutional; so that even the greatest liars do not, and cannot, love lying for its own sake. They lie to gratify, not a love for falsehood on its own account, but to obtain some object which they desire more strongly than they hate falsehood. Sinners, in spite of themselves, venerate, respect, and fear a man of truth. They just as necessarily despise a liar. If they are liars, they despise themselves for it, just as drunkards and debauchees despise themselves for indulging their filthy lusts, and yet continue in them.

(16.) Both saints and sinners not only approve of, and delight in good men, when, as I have said, wicked men are not annoyed by them, but they agree in reprobating, disapproving, and abhorring wicked men and devils. Who ever heard of any other sentiment and feeling being expressed either by good or bad men, than of abhorrence and indignation toward the devil? Nobody ever approved or can approve, of his character; sinners can no more approve of it than holy angels can. If he could approve of and delight in his own character, hell would cease to be hell, and evil would become his good. But no moral agent can, by any possibility, know wickedness and approve it. No man, saint or sinner, can entertain any other sentiments and feelings toward the devil, or wicked men, but those of disapprobation, distrust, disrespect, and often of loathing and abhorrence. The intellectual sentiment will be uniform. Disapprobation, distrust, condemnation, will always necessarily possess the minds of all who know wicked men and devils. And often, as occasions arise, wherein their characters are clearly revealed, and under circumstances favourable to such a result, the deepest feelings of disgust, of loathing, of indignation, and abhorrence of their wickedness, will manifest themselves alike among saints and sinners.

(17.) Saints and sinners may be equally honourable and fair in business transactions, so far as the outward act is concerned. They have different reasons for their conduct, but outwardly it may be the same. This leads to the remark--

(18.) That selfishness in the sinner, and benevolence in the saint, may, and often do, produce, in many respects, the same results or manifestations. For example: benevolence in the saint, and selfishness in the sinner, may beget the same class of desires, to wit, as we have seen, desire for their own sanctification, and for that of others, to be useful, and to have others so; desires for the conversion of sinners; and many such like desires.

(19.) This leads to the remark, that, when the desires of an impenitent person for these objects become strong enough to influence the will, he may take the same outward course, substantially, that the saint takes, in obedience to his intelligence. That is, the sinner is constrained by his feelings to do what the saint does from principle, or from obedience to the law of his intelligence. In this, however, although the outward manifestations be the same for the time being, yet the sinner is entirely selfish, and the saint benevolent. The saint is controlled by principle, and the sinner by impulse. In this case, time is needed to distinguish between them. The sinner not having the root of the matter in him, will return to his former course of life, in proportion as his convictions of the truth and importance of religion subside, and his former feelings return; while the saint will evince his heavenly birth, by manifesting his sympathy with God, and the strength of principle that has taken possession of his heart. That is, he will manifest that his intelligence, and not his feelings, controls his will.

(20.) Saints and sinners may both love and hate the same things, but for different and opposite reasons. For example: they may both love the Bible; the saint benevolently, and the sinner selfishly; that is, the saint loves the Bible for benevolent, and the sinner for selfish, reasons. They may love Christians for opposite reasons; the saint for their likeness to Christ, the sinner because he considers them the favourites of Heaven, as his particular friends, or because he, in some way, hopes to be benefited by them, or from a mere constitutional complacency in goodness. Now observe; the Christian may have the same constitutional feelings as the sinner; and besides these, he may have reasons for his love and conduct peculiar to the saint. The saint and sinner may, for different and opposite reasons, be interested in, and deeply affected with, the character of God, with the truth, the sanctuary, and in all the duties of religion, and all the means of grace. They may alike, but for different reasons, hate infidelity, error, sin, sinners, selfishness. A selfish sinner may deeply abhor selfishness in others, and even in himself, and still persevere in it.

(21.) Again: selfishness in the sinner, and benevolence in the saint, may lead them to form similar resolutions and purposes; for example--to serve God; to avoid all sin; to do all duty; to do right; to be useful; to persevere in well-doing; to live for eternity; to set a good example; to pay the strictest regard to the sabbath and to all the institutions of religion; to do all that in them lies to support religious institutions.

(22.) Saints and sinners may agree in their views of doctrines and of measures, may be equally zealous in the cause of God and religion; may be equally well-informed; may experience delight in prayer, and in religious meetings, and in religious exercises generally.

(23.) Both may be greatly changed in feeling and in life.

(24.) They may both give all their goods to feed the poor, or to support the gospel, and send it to the heathen.

(25.) They may both go as missionaries to the heathen, but for entirely different reasons.

(26.) They may have equal convictions of sin, and their sensibilities may be similarly affected by these convictions.

(27.) They may both have great sorrow for sin, and great loathing of self on account of it.

(28.) They may both have feelings of gratitude to God.

(29.) They may both appear to manifest all the graces of true saints.

(30.) They may both be very confident of their good estate.

(31.) They may both have new hopes and new fears, new joys and new sorrows, new friends and new enemies, new habits of life.

(32.) They may both be comforted by the promises, and awed by the threatenings.

(33.) They may both appear to have answers to prayer.

(34.) They may both appear and really suppose themselves to renounce the world. They may really both renounce this world, the saint for the glory of God, the sinner that he may win heaven.

(35.) They may both practise many forms of self-denial. The Christian really denies himself, and the sinner may appear to do so, by denying certain forms of self-seeking, for the securing of a selfish interest in another direction.

(36.) They may both have the faith of miracles: "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."--1 Cor. xiii. 2.

(37.) They may both suffer martyrdom for entirely opposite reasons. "And though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."--1 Cor. xiii. 3.

(38.) They may be confident of their good estate, and may both die in triumph, and carry their hope to the bar of God. "Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity."--Luke xiii. 26, 27.


Again: many sinners have been deceived just in the way I have pointed out, and have afterwards discovered that they had been deluded, but could not understand how. They have come to the conclusion that everybody is deluded, and that all professors are as much deceived as they are. This leads them to reject and despise all religion.
The thing needed is a philosophy and a theology that will admit and explain all the phenomena of experience, and not deny human consciousness. A theology that denies human consciousness is only a curse and a stumbling-block. But such is the doctrine of universal constitutional moral depravity.

It is frequently true, that the feelings of sinners become exceedingly rebellious and exasperated, even to the most intense opposition of feeling toward God, and Christ, and ministers, and revivals, and toward every thing of good report. If this class of sinners are converted, they are very apt to suppose, and to represent all sinners as having just such feelings as they had. But this is a mistake, for many sinners never had those feelings. Nevertheless, they are no less selfish and guilty than the class who have the rebellious and blasphemous feelings which I have mentioned. This is what they need to know. They need to understand definitely what sin is, and what it is not; that sin is selfishness; that selfishness is the yielding of the will to the control of feeling, and that it matters not at all what the particular class of feelings is, if feelings control the will, and not intelligence. Admit their good feelings, as they call them, and take pains to show them, that these feelings are merely constitutional, and have in themselves no moral character. If they plead, as they often will, that they not only feel but that they act out their feelings, and give themselves up to be controlled by them, then show them that this is only selfishness, changing its form, and the will consenting for the time to seek the gratification of this class of feelings, because they are for the time being the most importunate and influential with the will; that as soon as another class of feelings come into play, they will go over to their indulgence, and leave God and religion uncared for.

The ideas of depravity and of regeneration, to which I have often alluded, are fraught with great mischief in another respect. Great numbers, it is to be feared, both of private professors of religion and of ministers, have mistaken the class of feelings of which I have spoken, as common among certain impenitent sinners, for religion. They have heard the usual representations of the natural depravity of sinners, and also have heard certain desires and feelings represented as religion. They are conscious of these desires and feelings, and also, sometimes, when they are very strong, of being influenced in their conduct by them. They assume, therefore, that they are regenerate, and elected, and heirs of salvation. They are conscious that they often have feelings of great attachment to the world, and various classes of feeling very inconsistent with their religious feelings, as they call them; and that when these feelings are in exercise, they also yield to them, and give themselves up to their control. But this they are taught to think is common to all Christians; that all Christians have much indwelling sin, are much of their time entirely out of the way, and never altogether right, even for a moment, that they never feel so much as they are capable of feeling, and often feel the opposite of what they ought to feel. These views lull them asleep. The philosophy and theology that misrepresent moral depravity and regeneration thus, must, if consistent, also misrepresent true religion; and oh! the many thousands that have mistaken the mere constitutional desires and feelings, and the selfish yielding of the will to their control, for true religion, and have gone to the bar of God with a lie in their right hand.

It is a mournful, and even a heart-rending fact, that very much that passes current for Christian experience is not, and cannot be, an experience peculiar at all to Christians. It is common to both saints and sinners. It is merely the natural and necessary result of the human constitution, under certain circumstances. Let no man deceive himself by thinking more highly of himself than he ought to think.
Many true Christians have been much stumbled and kept in bondage, and their comfort and their usefulness much abridged, by finding themselves, from time to time, very languid and unfeeling. Supposing religion to consist in feeling, if at any time the sensibility becomes exhausted, and their feelings subside, they are immediately thrown into unbelief and bondage. Satan reproaches them for their want of feeling, and they have nothing to say, only to admit the truth of his accusations. Having a false philosophy of religion, they judge of the state of their hearts by the state of their feelings. They confound their hearts with their feelings, and are in almost constant perplexity to keep their hearts right, by which they mean their feelings, in a state of great excitement.

Again: they are not only sometimes languid, and have no pious feelings and desires, but at others they are conscious of classes of emotions which they call sin. These they resist, but still blame themselves for having them in their hearts, as they say. Thus they are brought into bondage again, although they are certain that these feelings are hated, and not at all indulged, by them.

Oh, how much all classes of persons need to have clearly defined ideas of what really constitutes sin and holiness. A false philosophy of the mind, especially of the will, and of moral depravity, has covered the world with gross darkness on the subject of sin and holiness, of regeneration, and of the evidences of regeneration, until the true saints, on the one hand, are kept in a continual bondage to their false notions; and on the other, the church swarms with unconverted professors, and is cursed with many self-deceived ministers.

This lecture was typed in by Nancy Dozier.

LECTURE XLV. Back to Top


In discussing this branch of the subject, I will--

1. Make several prefatory remarks.

2. Point out the prominent characteristics of both.

1. Prefatory remarks.

(1.) The Bible represents all mankind as forming two, and but two, great classes, saints and sinners. All regenerate souls, whatever be their attainments, are included in the first class. All unregenerate persons, whatever be their profession, possessions, gifts, or station, are included in the second.

(2.) The Bible represents the difference between these two classes as radical, fundamental, and complete. The Bible does not recognize the impenitent as having any goodness in them, but uniformly as being dead in trespasses and in sins. It represents the saints as being dead to sin, and alive to God, as sanctified persons, and often speaks in such strong language as almost to compel us to understand it as denying that the saints sin at all; or to conclude, that sinning at all, proves that one is not a saint. It does take the unqualified ground, that no one is a saint who lives or indulges in any sin.

(3.) The Bible represents the difference between saints and sinners as very manifest and as appearing abundantly in their lives. It requires us to judge all men by their fruits. It gives us both the fruits of a regenerate, and of an unregenerate state, and is exceedingly specific and plain upon the subject.

(4.) In treating this question, I shall endeavour to bear in mind, that I am inquiring after the evidences of regeneration, and that I am to speak, not of high and rare attainments in piety, but of its beginnings, and of things that must exist and appear, where there is even the commencement of true holiness.

2. I will point out the prominent characteristics of both saints and sinners.

(1.) Let it be distinctly remembered, that all unregenerate persons, without exception, have one heart, that is, they are selfish. This is their whole character. They are universally and only devoted to self-interest, or self-gratification. Their unregenerate heart consists in this selfish disposition, or in this selfish choice. This choice is the foundation of, and the reason for, all their activity. One and the same ultimate reason actuates them in all they do, and in all they omit, and that reason is either presently or remotely, directly or indirectly, to gratify themselves.

The regenerate heart is disinterested benevolence. In other words, it is love to God and our neighbour. All regenerate hearts are precisely similar. All true saints, whenever they have truly the heart of the saints of God, are actuated by one and the same motive. They have only one ultimate reason for all they do, and suffer, or omit. They have one ultimate intention, one end. They live for one and the same object, and that is the same end for which God lives.

Now the thing after which we are inquiring is, what must be the necessary developements and manifestations of these opposite states of mind. These opposite states are supreme and opposite and ultimate choices; and those opposite choices are ultimate. In whatever the saint and the sinner respectively engage, they have directly opposite ends in view. They are states of supreme devotion to ultimate and opposite ends. In whatever they do, the saint, if he acts as a saint, and the sinner, if he acts as a sinner, have directly opposite ends in view. They do, or omit what they do, for entirely different and opposite ultimate reasons. Although, as we have seen, in many things their opposite ends may lead them to attempt to secure them by similar means, and may, therefore, often lead to the same outward life, in many respects, yet it is always true, that even when they act outwardly alike, they have inwardly entirely different ultimate reasons for their conduct. As it often happens, that the saint in pursuing the highest good of being in general as an end, finds it necessary to do many things which the sinner may do to secure his selfish end; and as it often happens, that the sinner, in his endeavours to compass his selfish end, finds it necessary to use the same outward means that the saint does in his efforts to secure his end, it requires not unfrequently a good degree of candour and of discrimination to distinguish between them. And, as saints and sinners possess the same, or similar, constitutions and constitutional propensities, their desires and feelings are often so much alike, as to embarrass the superficial inquirer after their true spiritual state. As has been said, the sinner often, in seasons of strong religious excitement, not only has desires and feelings resulting from the laws of his constitution, similar to those that are experienced by the saints, but he also, for the time being, gives up his will to follow these impulses. In this case it requires the nicest discrimination to distinguish between the saint and the sinner; for at such times they not only feel alike, but they also act alike. The difficulty, in such cases, is to distinguish between the action of a will that obeys the intelligence and one that obeys a class of feelings that are so nearly in harmony with the dictates of the intelligence. To distinguish, in such cases, between that which proceeds from feeling, and that which proceeds from the intelligence, requires no slight degree of attention and discrimination. One needs to be a close observer, and no tyro in mental philosophy, to make just discriminations in cases of this kind.

Let it be understood, that the fundamental difference between saints and sinners does not consist in the fact, that one has a sinful nature, and the other has not, for neither of them has a sinful nature.

(2.) Nor does it consist in the fact, that the saint has had a physical regeneration, and therefore possesses some element of constitution which the sinner has not.

(3.) Nor does it consist in this, that saints are aiming or intending to do right, while sinners are aiming and intending to do wrong.

The saint loves God and his The sinner is selfish, and chooses neighbour; that is, chooses or his own gratification as an end. intends their highest good, for its
own sake.

This choice or intention is right, This choice or intention is wrong; though right is not the ultimate but wrong is not the end chosen, or thing intended. The good, i.e., the the thing upon which the intention valuable to being, and not the terminates. right, is that upon which the
intention terminates.

They are both choosing what they regard as valuable.

The saint chooses the good of being impartially; that is, he chooses the highest good of being in general for its own sake, and lays no greater stress upon his own, than is dictated by the law of his own intelligence. His duty is to will the greatest amount of good to being in general, and promote the greatest amount of good within his power. From the relation of things, every one's own highest well-being is committed to his particular keeping and promotion, in a higher sense than that of his neighbour is. Next to his own well-being, that of his own family and kindred is committed to his particular keeping and promotion, in a higher sense than that of his neighbour's family and kindred. Next the interest and well-being of his immediate neighbourhood and of those more immediately within the sphere of his influence, is committed to his keeping and promotion. Thus, while all interests are to be esteemed according to their intrinsic and relative value, the law of God requires, that we should lay ourselves out more particularly for the promotion of those interests that lie so much within our reach, that we can accomplish and secure a greater amount of good, by giving our principal attention and efforts to them, than could be secured by our practically treating the interests of every individual, of every family, and of every neighbourhood, as of equal value with our own. The practical judgment of all men always was, and necessarily must be, that the law of God demands, that every one should see to his own soul, and should provide for his own household, and that the highest good of the whole universe can best be promoted only by each individual, each family, each neighbourhood, and each nation, taking care to secure those interests more immediately committed to them, because more immediately within their reach. This is not selfishness, if the intention is to secure the highest good of being in general, and of these particular interests, as a part of the general good, and because it falls particularly to us to promote these particular interests, inasmuch as their promotion is particularly within our reach. The law of God, while it demands that I should will the highest good of being in general for its own sake, and esteem every interest known to me according to its intrinsic and relative value, demands also, that as a pastor of a church, I should give my time, and influence, and energies, more particularly to the promotion of the good of the people of my own charge. More good will, upon the whole, result to the world from pastors taking this course, than by their taking any other. The same is true of the family relation, and of all the relations of life. Our relations give us peculiar facilities for securing good, and impose on us peculiar responsibilities. Our relation to our own highest well-being imposes peculiar responsibilities on us, in regard to our own souls. So of our families, neighbourhoods, &c. It should be well considered then, that the precept, "Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself," does not require every one to pay just the attention to his neighbour's soul that he does to his own, nor the same attention to his neighbour's children and family that he does to his own. He is bound to esteem his neighbour's interest according to its relative value, and to pursue his own interest, and the interest of his family and neighbourhood, and nation, in a manner not inconsistent with the interests of others, but in a manner as highly conducive to the promotion of their interests, as in his judgment will, upon the whole, secure the greatest amount of good. If I have a life to live, and a certain amount of time, and talent, and money, and influence, to lay out for God and souls, I am bound to use all in that manner that, in my honest judgment, will upon the whole secure the greatest amount of good to being. I am not, certainly, to divide the pittance of my possessions among all men of present and coming generations. Nor am I to scatter my time and talent over the face of the whole globe. But, on the contrary, benevolence dictates, that I should lay out my time, and talents, and influence, and possessions, where and when, and in a way, in my honest estimation, calculated to secure to being the greatest amount of good.

I have said thus much, as might seem, by way of preparation; but, in fact, it is necessary for us to have these thoughts in mind, when we enter upon the discussion of the question before us; to wit: What are evidences of a truly benevolent state of mind? For example; suppose we should enter upon the inquiry in question, taking along with us the assumption, that true benevolence, that is, the disinterested love of God and our neighbour, implies that we should not only esteem, but also treat, all other interests of equal intrinsic value with our own, according to their intrinsic and relative value. I say, should we, in searching after evidence of disinterested benevolence, take along with us this false assumption, where should we find any evidence of benevolence on earth? No man does or can act upon such a principle. God has never acted upon it. Christ never acted upon it. Why did God select the particular nation of the Jews, and confine his revelations to them? Why did Christ preach the gospel to the Jews only, and say that he was not sent, save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? Why has God always acted upon this principle of accomplishing the greatest practicable good under all the circumstances of the case? He esteems the good of all, and of each, of his creatures according to its intrinsic and relative value, but does good when and as he best can. If the greatest amount of ultimate good can be secured by choosing Abraham before all other men, and making him and his posterity the objects of peculiar effort and spiritual cultivation and the depositories of the holy oracles, which he intended should ultimately bless all nations, why then, he does it. He exercises his own discretion in his efforts to accomplish the greatest amount of good. Good is his end, and he does all the good he can. In securing this, he does many things that might appear partial to those who take but a limited view of things. Just so with all truly benevolent creatures. Good is their end. In promoting it, their intelligence and the law of God dictate, that they should bestow their particular efforts, attention, influence, and possessions upon those particular interests and persons that will, in their judgment, result in the highest good of being as a whole. The whole Bible everywhere assumes this as the correct rule of duty. Hence it recognizes all the relations of life, and the peculiar responsibilities and duties that grow out of them, and enjoins the observance of those duties. The relation of husband and wife, of parent and child, of ruler and subject, and indeed all the relations incident to our highest well-being in this life, are expressly recognized, and their corresponding obligations assumed by the inspired writers; which shows clearly, that they understood the law of supreme love to God and equal love to our neighbour, to imply an obligation to give particular attention to those interests which God had placed more particularly within the reach of our influence; always remembering that those interests are to be pursued impartially; that is, in consistency with the promotion of all other interests, by those to whom their promotion is particularly committed. For example: I am not to pursue my own good and that of my family, or my neighbourhood, or my nation, in a manner inconsistent with the interests of my neighbour, or his family, or neighbourhood, or nation. But I am to seek the promotion of all the interests particularly committed to me, in harmony with, and only as making a part of, the general interest of being.

Now let it be remembered, that the saint is benevolent, and all his life as a saint is only the developement of this one principle; or his outward and inward activity is only an effort to secure the end upon which benevolence fastens, to wit, the highest good of God and of being in general.

The sinner is selfish; all his activity is to be ascribed to an intention to secure his own gratification. Self-interest is his end. It is easy to see from what has been said, that, to an outward observer, a benevolent saint may, and often must, appear to be selfish, and the selfish sinner may and will appear to be disinterested. The saint pursues his own good and the happiness and well-being of his family, as a part of universal good, and does it disinterestedly. The sinner pursues his own gratification, and that of his family, not as parts of universal good, and disinterestedly, but as his own, and as the interest of those who are regarded as parts of himself, and whose interest he regards as identified with his own.

They are both busy in promoting the interests of self and family, and neighbourhood, &c. And the difference between them lies in their ultimate intentions, or the reasons for what they do.
There is, as I have intimated, special difficulty in ascertaining, for certainty, which is the saint and which the sinner, when the sinner's selfishness is directed to the securing of a heavenly and eternal interest, instead of a worldly and temporal one. He may, and often does, aim at securing a heavenly and an eternal interest, both for himself, and family, and friends. When he does this, his outward manifestations are so very like those of the true saint, as to render it difficult, if not impossible, for an observer for the time being to distinguish accurately between them.

I have compared the saint and the sinner, in my last lecture, for the purpose of showing in what respect they may be alike.

I will now, in a few particulars, proceed to contrast them, that it may appear in what they differ.

(1.) And fundamentally, they are radically opposite to each other in their ultimate choice or intention. They are supremely devoted to different and opposite ends. They live to promote those opposite ends.

(2.) The saint is governed by reason, the law of God, or the moral law; in other words still, the law of disinterested and universal benevolence is his law. This law is not only revealed and developed in his intelligence, but it is written in his heart. So that the law of his intellect is the law of his heart. He not only sees and acknowledges what he ought to do and be, but he is conscious to himself, and gives evidence to others, whether they receive it and are convinced by it or not, that his heart, his will, or intention, is conformed to his convictions of duty. He sees the path of duty and follows it. He knows what he ought to will, intend, and do, and does it. Of this he is conscious. And of this others may be satisfied, if they are observing, charitable, and candid.

(3.) The sinner is contrasted with this in the most important and fundamental respects. He is not governed by reason and principle, but by feeling, desire, and impulse. Sometimes his feelings coincide with the intelligence, and sometimes they do not. But when they do so coincide, the will does not pursue its course out of respect or in obedience to the law of the intelligence, but in obedience to the impulse of the sensibility, which, for the time being, impels in the same direction as the law of the reason. But for the most part the impulses of the sensibility incline him to worldly gratifications, and in an opposite direction to that which the intelligence points out. This leads him to a course of life that is too manifestly the opposite of reason, to leave any room for doubt, as to what his true character is.

But he also has the law revealed in his intelligence. His head is right, but his heart is wrong. He knows what he ought to do, and will, and be, but he is conscious that his heart does not obey his reason. He is conscious that the law is in his intelligence, but is not written in his heart. He knows that he is not in heart what he necessarily affirms that he ought to be. He knows that he is habitually selfish, and not disinterestedly benevolent. Sometimes, as has been said, during seasons of special religious excitement, when his sensibility and intelligence impel in the same direction, he thinks his heart and head agree; that he is what he knows he ought to be; that the law is written in his heart. But as soon as this excitement subsides, he sees, or may see, that it was not his intelligence but his sensibility that governed his will; that in the absence of religious excitement his intelligence has no control of his will; that he is governed by impulse and not by principle. This will also be manifest to others. If during religious excitement they have hoped too well of him, as soon as, and in proportion as, excitement ceases, they will clearly see, that it was the impulse of feeling, and not the law of the intelligence that governed him. They will soon clearly see, that he has not, and had not, the root of the matter in him; that his religion was founded in the effervescence of the ever-varying sensibility, and not in the stable demands of his reason and conscience. As excitement waxes and wanes, he will be ever fluctuating. Sometimes quite zealous, and active, and talkative, full of feeling, he will have the appearance of possessing most of the phases of Christian character in a state of freshness and beauty. And anon his religious excitement ceases. His tongue is silent on religious subjects. His zeal abates apace. His attendance at the prayer and conference meeting is interrupted, and finally ceases. A worldly excitement takes possession of his sensibility. His will is carried off course. Politics, business, amusement, no matter what, is for the time being his exciting topic; he is carried away with it, and remains in this state carried hither and thither by worldly engrossments, until another religious excitement renews and confirms his delusion and that of his friends, who look upon him as a real Christian, but prone to backsliding.
(4.) The true saint is distinguished by his firm adherence to all the principles and rules of the divine government. He is a reformer from principle, and needs not the gale of popular excitement, or of popular applause, to put and keep him in motion. His intellect and conscience have taken the control of his will, or the will has renounced the impulses of the sensibility as its law, and voluntarily committed itself to the demands of the reason. This fact must appear both on the field of his own consciousness, and also in most instances be very manifest to others. His zeal does not wax and wane with every breeze of excitement. He is not carried away by every change in the effervescing sensibility. The law of reason being written in his heart, he does not at one time appear reasonable, and to be influenced by conscience and a regard to the law of love, and at another to be infinitely unreasonable, and to have little or no regard to God or his laws. He fears and shuns popular excitements, as he does all other temptations. He loaths and resists them. The excitements of politics, and business, and amusements, are regarded by him with a jealous eye. He dreads their influence on his sensibility; and when he feels them, it causes a deep struggle and groaning of spirit, because the will, adhering to the law of conscience, stedfastly resists them. Such-like excitements, instead of being his element and the aliment of his life, are a grief and vexation to him. Instead of living, and moving, and having his being, as it were, in the midst of them, and by them, he is only annoyed by them. They are not the moving spring of his activity, but only embarrass his spiritual life. His spiritual life is founded in the law of the intelligence, and supported by the light of the Holy Spirit poured upon his intellect through the truth. He steadily resists the flood-tides of mere feeling on every subject, and abides by truth, and principle, and moral law, whatever may be the circumstances of worldly or religious excitement around him. Be it ever remembered, it is moral law, moral principle, the law of love, and not mere feeling, that governs him.

(5.) The sinner, or deceived professor, for they are one, is the very opposite of this. Excitement is his element and his life. He has truly no moral principle except in theory. He is never truly influenced by truth, law, reason, but always by excitement of some kind. His activity is based on this; hence he is not disturbed and embarrassed in his movements, by excitements of any kind, any longer than it takes to put down one form of excitement and take on another. If when he is much interested and excited and carried away, in one direction, a counter influence or excitement comes in his way, he is taken aback for the time being. He is disconcerted and embarrassed, perhaps displeased. But you will soon see him change his course, and follow the new excitement. Excitement is his life, and although, like a ship at sea, he is thrown into temporary confusion by a sudden change of the winds and waves, so, like her whose life and activity are the breezes and the gale, and the ocean wave, he readily accommodates his sails and his course to the ever-changing breeze and currents of excitement, in the midst of which he loves to live, and on the foaming surface of which he is borne along. If you wish to move him, you must strongly appeal to his feelings. Reason does not, cannot govern him. 'Tis not enough to say to him, Thus saith the Lord. He will admit the right, but surely will not do it. He will not go that way, unless you can first make his feelings move in that direction. He holds the truth only in theory and in unrighteousness. It is not the law of his live, his heart, his warmest affections and sympathies. Present considerations to his intelligence; unless they excite his sensibility, and arouse his hopes, or fears, or feelings in some direction, you might as well attempt to change the course of the winds by your words. His imagination must be aroused and set on fire. His sensibility must be reached, enkindled. The gales of excitement must be raised, and the mainspring of his action must be touched, and directed to impel his will, before you can quicken him into life. His feelings are his law.

(6.) The saint is justified, and he has the evidence of it in the peace of his own mind. He is conscious of obeying the law of reason and of love. Consequently he naturally has that kind and degree of peace that flows from the harmony of his will with the law of his intelligence. He sometimes has conflicts with the impulses of feeling and desire. But unless he is overcome, these conflicts, though they may cause him inwardly, and, perhaps, audibly to groan, do not interrupt his peace. There are still the elements of peace within him. His heart and conscience are at one, and while this is so he has thus far the evidence of justification in himself. That is, he knows that God cannot condemn his present state. Conscious as he is of conformity of heart to the moral law, he cannot but affirm to himself, that the lawgiver is pleased with his present attitude. But further, he has also within the Spirit of God witnessing with his spirit, that he is a child of God, forgiven, accepted, adopted. He feels the filial spirit drawing his heart to exclaim, Father, Father. He is conscious that he pleases God, and has God's smile of approbation.

He is at peace with himself, because he affirms his heart to be in unison with the law of love. His conscience does not upbraid, but smile. The harmony of his own being is a witness to himself, that this is the state in which he was made to exist. He is at peace with God, because he and God are pursuing precisely the same end, and by the same means. There can be no collision, no controversy between them. He is at peace with the universe, in the sense, that he has no ill-will, and no malicious feelings or wish to gratify, in the injury of any one of all the creatures of God. He has no fear, but to sin against God. He is not influenced on the one hand by the fear of hell, nor on the other by the hope of reward. He is not anxious about his own salvation, but prayerfully and calmly leaves that question in the hands of God, and concerns himself only to promote the highest glory of God, and the good of being. "Being justified by faith, he has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." "There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

(7.) The sinner's experience is the opposite of this. He is under condemnation, and seldom can so far deceive himself, even in his most religious moods, as to imagine that he has a consciousness of acceptance either with his own conscience or with God. There is almost never a time in which he has not a greater or less degree of restlessness and misgiving within. Even when he is most engaged in religion, as he supposes, he finds himself dissatisfied with himself. Something is wrong. There is a struggle and a pang. He may not exactly see where and what the difficulty is. He does not, after all, obey reason and conscience, and is not governed by the law and will of God. Not having the consciousness of this obedience, his conscience does not smile. He sometimes feels deeply, and acts as he feels, and is conscious of being sincere in the sense of feeling what he says, and acting in obedience to deep feeling. But this does not satisfy conscience. He is more or less wretched after all. He has not true peace. Sometimes he has a self-righteous quiet and enjoyment. But this is neither peace of conscience nor peace with God. He, after all, feels uneasy and condemned, notwithstanding all his feeling, and zeal, and activity. They are not of the right kind. Hence they do not satisfy the conscience. They do not meet the demands of his intelligence. Conscience does not approve. He has not, after all, true peace. He is not justified; he cannot be fully and permanently satisfied that he is. He is not, for any length of time, satisfied with his best performances. He is conscious, after all, of sinning in all his holiest duties, and he is the more sure of this, in proportion as he is more enlightened. He thinks that this is the universal experience of all true saints; that although neither conscience nor God is satisfied with his obedience,--not even in his best frames and states,--yet he thinks, to be sure, he has some degree of holiness and conformity to the will of God, although not enough to bring out the approbation of conscience, and the smile of God upon his soul. He imagines that he has some true religion; some half-way obedience. He is a true, though an imperfect, saint, whose best obedience can and does satisfy neither his own sense of duty nor his God. With him, justification is a mere theory, a doctrine, an opinion, an article of faith, and not a living-felt reality; not an experience, but an idea, a notion, and, at best, a pleasing and dreamy delusion.

(8.) The saint has made the will of God his law, and asks for no other reason to influence his decisions and actions than that such is the will of God. He has received the will of God as the unfailing index, pointing always to the path of duty. His intelligence affirms that God's will is, and ought to be, law, or perfect evidence of what law is; and therefore he has received it as such. He therefore expects to obey it always, and in all things. He makes no calculations to sin in anything; nor in one thing more than another. He does not cast about, and pick and choose among the commandments of God; professing obedience to those that are the least offensive to him, and trampling on those that call to a sterner morality, and a harder self-denial. With him there are no little sins in which he expects to indulge. He no more expects to eat too much, than he expects to be a drunkard; and gluttony is as much a sin as drunkenness. He no more expects to take an advantage of his neighbour, than he expects to rob him on the highway. He no more designs and expects to indulge in secret, than in open uncleanness. He no more expects to indulge a wanton eye, than to commit adultery with his brother's wife. He no more expects to exaggerate and give a false colouring to the truth, than he expects and intends to commit perjury. All sin is an abomination to him. He has renounced it ex animo. His heart has rejected sin as sin. His heart has embraced the will of God as his law. It has embraced the whole will of God. He waits only for a knowledge of what the will of God is. He needs not, he seeks not, excitement to determine or to strengthen his will. The law of his being has come to be the will of God. A "thus saith the Lord," immediately awakens from the depths of his soul the whole-hearted "amen." He does not go about to plead for sin, to trim his ways so as to serve two masters. To serve God and Mammon is no part of his policy, and no part of his wish. No: he is God's man, God's subject, God's child. All his sympathies are with God; and surely "his fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." What Christ wills, he wills; what Christ rejects, he rejects.

(9.) But right over against this you will find the sinner, or deceived professor. God's will is not his law; but his own sensibility is his law. With him it is not enough to know the will of God; he must also have his sensibility excited in that direction, before he goes. He does not mean, nor expect, to avoid every form and degree of iniquity. His heart has not renounced sin as sin. It has not embraced the will of God from principle, and of course has not embraced the whole will of God. With him it is a small thing to commit what he calls little sins. This shows, conclusively, where he is. If the will of God were his law--as this is as really opposed to what he calls little, as to what he calls great sins, he would not expect and intend to disobey God in one thing more than in another. He could know no little sins, since they conflict with the will of God. But he goes about to pick and choose among the commandments of God, sometimes yielding an outward obedience to those that conflict least with his inclinations, and which therefore will cost him the least self-denial, but evading and disregarding those that lay the axe to the root of the tree, and prohibit all selfishness. The sinner, or deceived professor, does not in fact seriously mean, or expect, wholly to obey God. He thinks that this is common to all Christians. He as much expects to sin every day against God, as he expects to live, and does not think this at all inconsistent with his being a real, though imperfect, Christian. He is conscious of indulging in some sins, and that he has never repented of them and put them away, but he thinks that this also is common to all Christians, and therefore it does not slay his false hope. He would much sooner indulge in gluttony than in drunkenness, because the latter would more seriously affect his reputation. He would not hesitate to indulge wanton thoughts and imaginations when he would not allow himself in outward licentiousness, because of its bearing upon his character, and, as he says, upon the cause of God. He will not hesitate to take little advantages of his neighbour, to amass a fortune in this way, while he would recoil from robbing on the highway, or on the high seas; for this would injure his reputation with man, and, as he thinks, more surely destroy his soul. Sinners sometimes become exceedingly self-righteous, and aim at what they call perfection. But unless they are very ignorant, they soon become discouraged, and cry out, "O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" They, however, almost always satisfy themselves with a mere outward morality, and that, as I have said, not descending to what they call little sins.

This lecture was typed in by Nancy Dozier.




(10.) Saints are interested in, and sympathize with, every effort to reform mankind, and promote the interests of truth and righteousness in the earth.

The good of being is the end for which the saint really and truly lives. This is not merely held by him as a theory, as an opinion, as a theological or philosophical speculation. It is in his heart, and precisely for this reason he is a saint. He is a saint just because the theory, which is lodged in the head of both saint and sinner, has also a lodgement and a reigning power in his heart, and consequently in his life. The fact is, that saints, as such, have no longer a wicked heart. They are "born again," "born of God," and "they cannot sin, for his seed remaineth in them, so that they cannot sin, because they are born of God." "They have a new heart," "are new creatures," "old things are passed away, and behold all things are become new." They are holy or sanctified persons. The Bible representations of the new birth forbid us to suppose that the truly regenerate have still a wicked heart. The nature of regeneration also renders it certain that the regenerate heart cannot be a wicked heart. His heart or choice is fixed upon the highest good of God and the universe as an end. Moral agents are so constituted, that they necessarily regard truth and righteousness, as conditions of the highest good of moral agents. These being necessarily regarded by them as indispensable to the end, will, and must be considered as important, as the end to which they sustain the relation of indispensable conditions. As they supremely value the highest good of being, they will, and must take a deep interest in whatever is promotive of that end. Hence, their spirit is necessarily that of the reformer. To the universal reformation of the world they stand committed. To this end they are devoted. For this end they live, and move, and have their being. Every proposed reform interests them, and naturally leads them to examine its claims. The fact is, they are studying and devising ways and means to convert, sanctify, reform mankind. Being in this state of mind, they are predisposed to lay hold on whatever gives promise of good to man. A close examination will show a remarkable difference between saints and sinners in this respect. True saints love reform. It is their business, their profession, their life to promote it; consequently they are ready to examine the claims of any proposed reform; candid and self-denying, and ready to be convinced, however much self-denial it may call them to. They have actually rejected self-indulgence, as the end for which they live, and are ready to sacrifice any form of self-indulgence, for the sake of promoting the good of men and the glory of God. It is not, and cannot be natural to them to be prejudiced against reform, to be apt to array themselves against, or speak lightly of, any proposed reform, until they have thoroughly examined its claims, and found it wanting in the essential attributes of true reform. The natural bearing or bias of the saint's mind is in favour of whatever proposes to do good, and instead of ridiculing reform in general, or speaking lightly or censoriously of reform, the exact opposite is natural to him. It is natural to him to revere reformers, and to honour those who have introduced even what proved in the end not to be wholesome reforms, if so be there is evidence, that they were sincere and self-denying in their efforts to benefit mankind. The saint is truly and greatly desirous, and in earnest, to reform all sin out of the world, and just for this reason is ready to hail with joy, and to try whatever reform seems, from the best light he can get, to bid fair to put down sin, and the evils that are in the world. Even mistaken men, who are honestly endeavouring to reform mankind, and denying their appetites, as many have done in dietetic reform, are deserving of the respect of their fellow men. Suppose their philosophy to be incorrect, yet they have intended well. They have manifested a disposition to deny themselves, for the purpose of promoting the good of others. They have been honest and zealous in this. Now no true saint can feel or express contempt for such reformers, however much mistaken they may be. No; his natural sentiments and feelings will be, and must be, the reverse of contempt or censoriousness in respect to them. If their mistake has been injurious, he may mourn over the evil, but will not, cannot, severely judge the honest reformer. War, slavery, licentiousness, and all such like evils and abominations, are necessarily regarded by the saint as great and sore evils, and he longs for their complete and final overthrow. It is impossible that a truly benevolent mind should not thus regard these abominations of desolation. The cause of peace, the cause of anti-slavery, and that of the overthrow of licentiousness, must lie near the heart of every truly benevolent mind. I know that sinners often have a certain kind of interest in these and other reforms. This will be noticed and explained in the proper place. But whatever is true of sinners under certain circumstances, it must be always true of Christians, that they hail the cause of peace, of the abolition of slavery, and of the abolition of every form of sin, and of every evil, moral and physical, with joy, and cannot but give them a hearty God-speed. If they see that they are advocated on wrong principles, or with a bad spirit, or by bad men, and that injurious measures are used to promote them, the saints will mourn, will be faithful in trying to find out and to proclaim a more excellent way. Do but keep in mind the fact, that saints are truly benevolent, and are really and heartily consecrated to the highest good of being, and then it will surely be seen, that these things must be true of real saints.

The saints in all ages have been reformers. I know it is said, that neither prophets, Christ, nor apostles, nor primitive saints and martyrs declaimed against war and slavery, &c. But they did. The entire instructions of Christ, and of apostles and prophets, were directly opposed to these and all other evils. If they did not come out against certain legalized forms of sin, and denounce them by name, and endeavour to array public sentiment against them, it is plainly because they were, for the most part, employed in a preliminary work. To introduce the gospel as a divine revelation; to set up and organize the visible kingdom of God on earth; to lay a foundation for universal reform, was rather their business, than the pushing forward of particular branches of reform. The overthrow of state idolatry, the great and universal sin of the world in that age; the labour of getting the world and the governments of earth to tolerate and receive the gospel as a revelation from the one only living and true God; the controversy with the Jews, to overthrow their objections to Christianity; in short, the great and indispensable and preliminary work of gaining for Christ and his gospel a hearing, and an acknowledgment of its divinity, was rather their work, than the pushing of particular precepts and doctrines of the gospel to their legitimate results and logical consequences. This work once done has left it for later saints to bring the particular truths, precepts, and doctrines of the blessed gospel to bear down every form of sin. Prophets, Christ, and his apostles, have left on the pages of inspiration no dubious testimony against every form of sin. The spirit of the whole Bible breathes from every page blasting and annihilation upon every unholy abomination, while it smiles upon everything of good report that promises blessings to man and glory to God. The saint is not merely sometimes a reformer; he is always so. He is necessarily so, if he abide a saint. It is a contradiction to say, that a true saint is not devoted to reform; for, as I have said, he is a true saint just because he is devoted, heart, and soul, and life, and all, to the promotion of the good of universal being.

(11.) The sinner is never a reformer in any proper sense of the word.

He is selfish and never opposed to sin, or to any evil whatever, from any such motive as renders him worthy the name of reformer. He sometimes selfishly advocates and pushes certain outward reforms; but as certain as it is that he is an unregenerate sinner, so certain is it, that he is not endeavouring to reform sin out of the world from any disinterested love to God or to man. Many considerations of a selfish nature may engage him at times in certain branches of reform. Regard to his reputation may excite his zeal in such an enterprize. Self-righteous considerations may also lead him to enlist in the army of reformers. His relation to particular forms of vice may influence him to set his face against them. Constitutional temperament and tendencies may lead to his engaging in certain reforms. For example, his constitutional benevolence, as phrenologists call it, may be such that from natural compassion he may engage in reforms. But this is only giving way to an impulse of the sensibility, and it is not principle that governs him. His natural conscientiousness may modify his outward character, and lead him to take hold of some branches of reform. But whatever other motives he may have, sure it is that he is not a reformer; for he is a sinner, and it is absurd to say that a sinner is truly engaged in opposing sin as sin. No, it is not sin that he is opposing, but he is seeking to gratify an ambitious, a self-righteous, or some other spirit, the gratification of which is selfishness.

But as a general thing, it is easy to distinguish sinners, or deceived professors from saints by looking steadfastly at their temper and deportment in their relations to reform. They are self-indulgent, and sinners just for the reason that they are devoted to self-indulgence. Sometimes their self-indulgent spirit takes on one type, and sometimes another. Of course they need not be expected to ridicule or oppose every branch of reform, just because it is not every reformer that will rebuke their favourite indulgences, and call them to reform their lives. But as every sinner has one or more particular form of indulgence to which he is wedded, and as saints are devising and pushing reforms in all directions, it is natural that some sinners should manifest particular hostility to one reform, and some to another. Whenever a reform is proposed that would reform them out of their favourite indulgences, they will either ridicule it, and those that propose it, or storm and rail, or in some way oppose or wholly neglect it. Not so, and so it cannot be, with a true saint. He has no indulgence that he values when put in competition with the good of being. Nay, he holds his all and his life at the disposal of the highest good. Has he, in ignorance of the evils growing out of his course, used ardent spirits, wine, tobacco, ale, or porter? Has he held slaves; been engaged in any traffic that is found to be injurious; has he favoured war through ignorance; or, in short, has he committed any mistake whatever? let but a reformer come forth and propose to discuss the tendency of such things; let the reformer bring forth his strong reasons; and from the very nature of true religion, the saint will listen with attention, weigh with candour, and suffer himself to be carried by truth, heart, and hand, and influence with the proposed reform, if it be worthy of support, how much soever it conflict with his former habits. This must be true, if he has a single eye to the good of being, which is the very characteristic of a saint.

But the sinner, or deceived professor, is naturally a conservative as opposed to a reformer. He says, Let me alone in my indulgences, and I will let you alone in yours, provided they in no way interfere with my own. Consequently, he is in general disposed to distrust, to discountenance, and to ridicule reforms and those that advocate them. He is uncandid and hard to convince; will demand an express, "Thus saith the Lord," or what is equivalent to a demonstration, of the wisdom and utility and practicability of a proposed reform. He will evince in many ways, that his heart is not predisposed to reforms. He will be eagle-eyed in respect to any faults in the character or measures of the reformers; he will be eager to detect and seize upon any error in their logic, and is easily displeased and repelled with their measures.

In short, sinners will be almost sure to manifest a latent dislike to reforms. They will dwell much and almost exclusively upon the evils of revivals of religion, for example; the danger of spurious excitements; of promoting fanaticism and misrule; of encouraging false hopes; and they will in various ways manifest a disrelish for revivals of religion, but always under the pretence of a concern for the purity of the church, and honour of God. They will be too much taken up with the evils and dangers, ever to give themselves heartily to the promotion of pure revivals. They act on the defensive. They have enough to do to resist and oppose what they call evils, without even trying to show a more excellent way. They in general take substantially the same course in respect to almost every branch of reformation, and especially to every reform that can touch their idols. They are so much afraid of mistakes and evils, that they withhold their influence, when in fact the difficulty is, they have no heart to the work. Benevolence has been for thousands of years endeavouring to reform the world, and selfishness is opposing it. And often, very often, under the sanctimonious garb of a concern for the honour of religion, selfishness utters its sighs and lamentations over the supposed ignorance, mistakes, fanaticism, and injurious measures, of those whose hearts and hands and entire being are devoted to the work.

(12.) Christians overcome the world. I will here introduce an extract from a discourse of my own upon this text, reported in the Oberlin Evangelist:--

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."--John v. 4.

FIRST. What is it to overcome the world?

(i.) It is to get above the spirit of covetousness which possesses the men of the world. The spirit of the world is eminently the spirit of covetousness. It is a greediness after the things of the world. Some worldly men covet one thing, and some another; but all classes of worldly men are living in the spirit of covetousness, in some of its forms. This spirit has supreme possession of their minds.

Now the first thing in overcoming the world is, that the spirit of covetousness in respect to worldly things and objects, be overcome. The man who does not overcome this spirit of bustling and scrambling after the good which this world proffers, has by no means overcome it.

(ii.) Overcoming the world implies, rising above its engrossments. When a man has overcome the world, his thoughts are no longer engrossed and swallowed up with worldly things. A man certainly does not overcome the world, unless he gets above being engrossed and absorbed with its concerns.

Now we all know how exceedingly engrossed worldly men are with some form of worldly good. One is swallowed up with study; another with politics; a third with money-getting; and a fourth, perhaps, with fashion and pleasure; but each in his chosen way makes earthly good the all-engrossing object.

The man who gains the victory over the world, must overcome not one form only of its pursuits, but every form--must overcome the world itself, and all that it has to present, as an allurement to the human heart.

(iii.) Overcoming the world implies overcoming the fear of the world.

It is a mournful fact that most men, and indeed all men of worldly character have so much regard to public opinion, that they dare not act according to the dictates of their consciences, when acting thus would incur the popular frown. One is afraid lest his business should suffer, if his course runs counter to public opinion; another fears, lest if he stands up for the truth, it will injure his reputation, and curiously imagines and tries to believe, that advocating an unpopular truth will diminish and perhaps destroy his good influence--as if a man could exert a good influence in any possible way besides maintaining the truth.

Great multitudes, it must be admitted, are under this influence of fearing the world; yet some of them, and perhaps many of them, are not aware of this fact. If you, or if they, could thoroughly sound the reasons of their backwardness in duty, fear of the world would be among the chief. Their fear of the world's displeasure is so much stronger than their fear of God's displeasure, that they are completely enslaved by it. Who does not know that some ministers dare not preach what they know is true, and even what they know is important truth, lest they should offend some whose good opinion they seek to retain? The society is weak perhaps, and the favour of some rich man in it seems indispensable to its very existence. Hence the terror of this rich man is continually before their eyes, when they write a sermon, or preach, or are called to stand up in favour of any truth or cause, which may be unpopular with men of more wealth than piety or conscience. Alas! this bondage to man! Many gospel ministers are so troubled by it, that their time serving policy becomes virtually renouncing Christ, and serving the world.

Overcoming the world is thoroughly subduing this servility to men.

(iv.) Overcoming the world implies overcoming a state of worldly anxiety. You know there is a state of great carefulness and anxiety which is common and almost universal among worldly men. It is perfectly natural, if the heart is set upon securing worldly good, and has not learned to receive all good from the hand of a great Father, and trust him to give or withhold, with his own unerring wisdom. But he who loves the world is the enemy of God, and hence can never have this filial trust in a parental Benefactor, nor the peace of soul which it imparts. Hence worldly men are almost incessantly in a fever of anxiety lest their worldly schemes should fail. They sometimes get a momentary relief when all things seem to go well: but some mishap is sure to befall them at some point soon, so that scarce a day passes that brings not with it some corroding anxiety. Their bosoms are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

But the man who gets above the world, gets above this state of ceaseless and corroding anxiety.

(v.) The victory under consideration implies, that we cease to be enslaved and in bondage by the world, in any of its forms.

There is a worldly spirit, and there is also a heavenly spirit; and one or the other exists in the heart of every man, and controls his whole being. Those who are under the control of the world, of course have not overcome the world. No man overcomes the world till his heart is imbued with the spirit of Heaven.

One form which the spirit of the world assumes is, being enslaved to the customs and fashions of the day.

It is marvellous to see what a goddess Fashion becomes. No heathen goddess was ever worshipped with costlier offerings or more devout homage, or more implicit subjection. And surely no heathen deity, since the world began, has ever had more universal patronage. Where will you go to find the man of the world, or the woman of the world, who does not hasten to worship at her shrine? But overcoming the world implies, that the spirit of this goddess-worship is broken.

They who have overcome the world are no longer careful either to secure its favour or avert its frown, and the good or the ill opinion of the world is to them a small matter. "To me," said Paul, "it is a small thing to be judged of man's judgment." So of every real Christian; his care is to secure the approbation of God; this is his chief concern, to commend himself to God and to his own conscience. No man has overcome the world unless he has attained this state of mind. Scarcely any feature of Christian character is more striking or more decisive than this,--indifference to the opinions of the world.

Since I have been in the ministry I have been blessed with the acquaintance of some men who were peculiarly distinguished by this quality of character. Some of you may have known the Rev. James Patterson, late of Philadelphia. If so, you know him to have been eminently distinguished in this respect. He seemed to have the least possible disposition to secure the applause of men, or to avoid their censure. It seemed to be of no consequence to him to commend himself to men. For him it was enough if he might please God. Hence you were sure to find him in everlasting war against sin, all sin, however popular, however entrenched by custom, or sustained by wealth, or public opinion. Yet he always opposed sin with a most remarkable spirit, a spirit of inflexible decision, and yet of great mellowness and tenderness. While he was saying the most severe things in the most severe language, you might see the big tears rolling down his cheeks.

It is wonderful that most men never complained of his having a bad spirit. Much as they dreaded his rebuke, and writhed under his strong and daring exposures of wickedness, they could never say that father Patterson had any other than a good spirit. This was a most beautiful and striking exemplification of having overcome the world.

Men who are not thus dead to the world have not escaped its bondage. The victorious Christian is in a state where he is no longer in bondage to man. He is bound only to serve God.

SECONDLY. We must inquire, who are those that overcome the world?

Our text gives the ready answer. "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world." You cannot fail to observe, that this is a universal proposition,--all who are born of God overcome the world--all these, and it is obviously implied, none others. You may know who are born of God by this characteristic--they overcome the world. Of course the second question is answered.

THIRDLY. Our next question is, Why do believers overcome the world? On what principle is this result effected?

I answer, this victory over the world, results as naturally from the spiritual or heavenly birth, as coming into bondage to the world results from the natural birth.

It may be well to revert a moment to the law of connection in the latter case: namely, between coming into the world by natural birth, and bondage to the world. This law obviously admits of a philosophical explanation, at once simple and palpable to every one's observation. Natural birth reveals to the mind objects of sense, and these only. It brings the mind into contact with worldly things. Of course, it is natural that the mind should become deeply interested in these objects, thus presented through its external senses, especially as most of them sustain so intimate a relation to our sentient nature, and become the first and chief sources of our happiness. Hence our affections are gradually entwined around these objects, and we become thoroughly lovers of this world, ere our eyes have been opened upon it many months.

Now, alongside of this universal fact, let another be placed of equal importance, and not less universal; namely, that those intuitive powers of the mind, which were created to take cognizance of our moral relations, and hence to counteract the too great influence of worldly objects, come into action very slowly, and are not developed so as to act vigorously, until years are numbered as months are, in the case of the external organs of sense. The very early and vigorous developement of the latter brings the soul so entirely under the control of worldly objects, that when the reason and the conscience come to speak, their voice is little heeded. As a matter of fact, we find it universally true that, unless Divine power interpose, the bondage to the world thus induced upon the soul, is never broken.

But the point which I particularly desired to elucidate was simply this, that natural birth, with its attendant laws of physical and mental developement, becomes the occasion of bondage to this world.

Right over against this, lies the birth into the kingdom of God by the Spirit. By this the soul is brought into new relations, we might rather say, into intimate contact with spiritual things. The Spirit of God seems to usher the soul into the spiritual world, in a manner strictly analogous to the result of the natural birth upon our physical being. The great truths of the spiritual world are opened to our view, through the illumination of the Spirit of God; we seem to see with new eyes, and to have a new world of spiritual objects around us.

As in regard to natural objects, men not only speculate about them, but realize them; so in the case of spiritual children do spiritual things become, not merely matters of speculation, but of full and practical realization also. When God reveals himself to the mind, spiritual things are seen in their real light, and make the impression of realities.

Consequently, when spiritual objects are thus revealed to the mind, and thus apprehended, they will supremely interest that mind. Such is our mental constitution that the truth of God, when thoroughly apprehended, cannot fail to interest us. If these truths were clearly revealed to the wickedest man on earth, so that he should apprehend them as realities, it could not fail to rouse up his soul to most intense action. He might hate the light, and might stubbornly resist the claims of God upon his heart, but he could not fail to feel a thrilling interest in truths that so take hold of the great and vital things of human well-being.

Let me ask, Is there a sinner, or can there be a sinner on this wide earth, who does not see, that if God's presence were made as manifest and as real to his mind as the presence of his fellow men, it would supremely engross his soul, even though it might not subdue his heart?

This revelation of God's presence and character might not convert him, but it would, at least for the time being, kill his attention to the world.

You often see this in the case of persons deeply convicted; you have doubtless seen persons so fearfully convicted of sin, that they cared nothing at all for their food nor their dress. O, they cried out in the agony of their souls, what matter all these things to us, if we even get them all, and then must lie down in hell!

But these thrilling and all-absorbing convictions do not necessarily convert the soul, and I have alluded to them here only to show the controlling power of realizing views of divine truth.

When regeneration has taken place, and the soul is born of God, then realizing views of truth not only awaken interest, as they might do in an unrenewed mind, but they also tend to excite a deep and ardent love for these truths. They draw out the heart. Spiritual truth now takes possession of his mind, and draws him into its warm and life-giving embrace. Before, error, falsehood, death, had drawn him under their power; now the Spirit of God draws him into the very embrace of God. Now, he is begotten of God, and breathes the spirit of sonship. Now, according to the Bible, "the seed of God remaineth in him," that very truth, and those movings of the Spirit which gave him birth into the kingdom of God, continue still in power upon his mind, and hence he continues a Christian, and as the Bible states it, "he cannot sin, because he is born of God." The seed of God is in him, and the fruit of it brings his soul deeply into sympathy with his Father in heaven.

Again: the first birth makes us acquainted with earthly things, the second with God; the first with the finite, the second with the infinite; the first with things correlated with our animal nature, the second with those great things which stand connected with our spiritual nature, things so lovely, and glorious as to overcome all the ensnarements of the world.

Again: the first begets a worldly, and the second a heavenly, temper; under the first, the mind is brought into a snare, under the second, it is delivered from that snare. Under the first, the conversation is earthly, under the second, "our conversation is in heaven.". . . . .

He who does not habitually overcome the world, is not born of God. In saying this, I do not intend to affirm that a true Christian may not sometime be overcome by temptation; but I do affirm that overcoming the world is the general rule, and falling into sin is only the exception. This is the least that can be meant by the language of our text, and by similar declarations which often occur in the Bible. Just as in the passage: "He that is born of God doth not commit sin, and he cannot sin because he is born of God." Nothing less can be meant than this--that he cannot sin habitually--cannot make sinning his business, and can sin, if at all, only occasionally and aside from the general current of his life. In the same manner, we should say of a man who is almost universally truthful, that he is not a liar.

I will not contend for more than this, respecting either of these passages; but for so much as this I must contend, that the new-born souls here spoken of do, all of them, habitually overcome the world. The general fact respecting them is, that they do not sin, and are not in bondage to Satan. The affirmations of Scripture respecting them must, at least, embrace their general character.

What is a religion good for that does not overcome the world? What is the benefit of being born into such a religion, if it leaves the world still swaying its dominion over our hearts? What avails a new birth, which, after all, fails to bring us into a likeness to God, into the sympathies of his family, and of his kingdom, which leaves us still in bondage to the world and to Satan? What can there be of such a religion more than the name? With what reason can any man suppose, that such a religion fits his soul for heaven, supposing it leaves him earthly-minded, sensual, and selfish?

We see why it is that infidels have proclaimed the gospel of Christ to be a failure. You may not be aware that of late infidels have taken this ground, that the gospel of Christ is a failure. They maintain that it professes to bring men out from the world, but fails to do so; and hence is manifestly a failure. Now, you must observe, that the Bible does indeed affirm, as infidels say, that those who are truly born of God do overcome the world. This we cannot deny, and we should not wish to deny it. Now, if the infidel can show that the new birth fails to produce this result, he has carried his point, and we must yield ours. This is perfectly plain, and there can be no escape for us.

But the infidel is in fault in his premises. He assumes the current Christianity of the age as a specimen of real religion, and builds his estimate upon this. He proves, as he thinks,--and perhaps truly proves--that the current Christianity does not overcome the world.

We must demur to his assuming this current Christianity as real religion. For this religion of the mass of nominal professors does not answer the descriptions given of true piety in the word of God. And, moreover, if this current type of religion were all that the gospel and the Divine Spirit can do for lost man, then we might as well give up the point in controversy with the infidel; for such a religion could not give us much evidence of having come from God, and would be of very little value to man,--so little as scarcely to be worth contending for. Truly, if we must take the professedly Christian world, as Bible Christians, who would not be ashamed and confounded in attempting to confront the infidel? We know but too well, that the great mass of professed Christians do not overcome the world, and we should be confounded quickly if we were to maintain that they do. Those professed Christians themselves know, that they do not overcome the world. Of course they could not testify concerning themselves, that in their own case the power of the gospel is exemplified.

In view of facts like these, I have often been astonished to see ministers setting themselves to persuade their people, that they are truly converted, trying to lull their fears and sustain their tottering hopes. Vain effort! Those same ministers, it would seem, must know that they themselves do not overcome the world, and equally well must they know that their people do not. How fatal then to the soul must be such efforts to "heal the hurt of God's professed people, slightly; crying peace, peace, when there is no peace!"

Let us sift this matter to the bottom, pushing the inquiry--Do the great mass of professed Christians really overcome the world? It is a fact beyond question, that with them the things of the world are realities, and the things of God are mere theories. Who does not know that this is the real state of great multitudes in the nominal church?

Let the searching inquiry run through this congregation--What are those things that set your soul on fire--that stir up your warmest emotions, and deeply agitate your nervous system? Are these the things of earth, or the things of heaven? the things of time, or the things of eternity? the things of self, or the things of God?

How is it when you go into your closets? Do you go there to seek and to find God? Do you, in fact, find there a present God, and do you hold communion there as friend with friend? How is this?

Now you certainly should know, that if your state is such that spiritual things are mere theories and speculations, you are altogether worldly and nothing more. It would be egregious folly and falsehood to call you spiritual-minded; and for you to think yourselves spiritual, would be the most fatal and foolish self-deception. You give none of the appropriate proofs of being born of God. Your state is not that of one who is personally acquainted with God, and who loves him personally with supreme affection.

Until we can put away from the minds of men the common error, that the current Christianity of the church is true Christianity, we can make but little progress in converting the world. For, in the first place, we cannot save the church itself from bondage to the world in this life, nor from the direst doom of the hypocrite in the next. We cannot unite and arm the church in vigorous onset upon Satan's kingdom, so that the world may be converted to God. We cannot even convince intelligent men of the world that our religion is from God, and brings to fallen men a remedy for their depravity. For if the common Christianity of the age is the best that can be, and this does not give men the victory over the world, what is it good for? And if it is really of little worth or none, how can we hope to make thinking men prize it as of great value?

There are but very few infidels who are as much in the dark as they profess to be on these points. There are very few of that class of men, who are not acquainted with some humble Christians, whose lives commend Christianity and condemn their own ungodliness. Of course they know the truth, that there is a reality in the religion of the Bible, and they blind their own eyes selfishly and most foolishly, when they try to believe that the religion of the Bible is a failure, and that the Bible is therefore a fabrication. Deep in their heart lies the conviction that here and there are men who are real Christians, who overcome the world, and live by a faith unknown to themselves. In how many cases does God set some burning examples of Christian life before those wicked, sceptical men, to rebuke them for their sin and their scepticism--perhaps their own wife or their children--their neighbours or their servants. By such means the truth is lodged in their mind, and God has a witness for himself in their consciences.

(13.) But the sinner does not overcome the world. The world in some form overcomes him. Its cares, engrossments, pleasures, business, politics, influence, in some form, are his master. Nor does he escape from its dominion over his heart, if he resorts to a nunnery or a monastery, or betakes himself to the life of an ascetic or of a recluse, and shuts himself out from human society. The world is still his master, and holds him in a state of banishment from its domain. Many think they have overcome the world, merely because the world has so completely overcome them. It is so completely their master, as to force them to back out of it, to hide themselves from it. They have not got the world under their feet, but it has got them into banishment from that field of labour and of usefulness, where God and reason call them to labour. The world has prevailed to rout them from their stronghold in Christ, and drive them to take refuge in monasteries, nunneries, and in caves and dens of the earth. What an infinite mistake to suppose that this is overcoming the world! To forsake our field of labour, to give over our work, to let the world of sinners go down to hell, and go ourselves into exile from the world. Or at the bidding of the world, be driven completely from the battle field, and hide in caves and dens, and proclaim ourselves the victors, when in fact we have fled before, and unbelievingly succumbed to, the enemy, instead of subduing and overcoming him by faith.

But in general. Sinners do not betake themselves to flight in this way, but abide in the world, and tamely submit to wear its chains. Let it be distinctly understood, that the true difference between saints and sinners is, that while they both live in the world, both mingle in its scenes, and engage in its affairs, both have families or not, as the case may be, both provide for the body, cultivate the soil, or follow some occupation, the saint has not a worldly, selfish end in view. He is not enslaved by the world, but his heart is steadfast, serving the Lord. Whatever he does, he does it, not for some selfish end, but for God. Does he provide for himself and his family? he does it as a service rendered to God. He regards himself as the Lord's and not his own. He regards himself as the Lord's steward, and in whatever employment he is engaged, he accounts it the Lord's business, and himself as the Lord's servant in transacting it. He is not his own; he has no business of his own. The world is not his, nor is he the world's. He does not bow down to it, nor serve it. He has been chosen out of the world, and therefore, while employed by his Master in it, he does all, not for self, but for God.

Not so with the sinner. He counts his business his own. Hence he is full of cares and anxieties. The losses in business are his losses, and the profits are his profits. Living and transacting business for the Lord is only a theory with him. The practical fact with him is, that he is in bondage to the world. He serves the world, or rather, he serves himself of the world. The world he serves as a means of self-gratification. The saint serves God of, or with, the world; the sinner, himself. The saint uses the world as not abusing it; the sinner abuses it, and uses it to gratify his own lusts. The saint overcomes the world, because he uses it for God: the sinner is overcome by the world, because he uses it for himself.

(14.) The true saint overcomes the flesh. This term is sometimes used in the gospel to signify the sensibility, as distinguished from the intelligence, and at other times in a more literal sense, and signifies the bodily appetites and passions. The true saint is represented in the Bible as one who overcomes both his bodily appetites and passions, and also as overcoming the flesh, in the still wider sense of the sensibility. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."--Gal. v. 16-24. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life."--Rom. vi. 1-4. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life, because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."--Rom. viii. 1-14.

With the saint it is not merely acknowledged to be a duty to overcome the flesh, but he actually does overcome, and he is a saint just because he is delivered from the bondage of the flesh, and introduced into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Saints no longer mind or obey the flesh. Their God is not their belly, nor do they mind earthly things. This is the uniform representation of scripture respecting them. They are not the slaves of appetite, or passion, or lust, under any form, but they are the Lord's freemen. This is not only the representation of scripture, but must of course be true from the nature of regeneration. Regeneration consists, let it be remembered, in the will's ceasing to be governed by the propensities of the flesh, and committing itself to the good of being. If the Bible did not represent the regenerate as overcoming the world and the flesh, it would not only be inconsistent with itself, but also with matter of fact. It would not, in such case, recognize the nature of regeneration. We are now considering, not what is true of the mass of professing Christians, but what is and must be true of real saints. Of them it must be true, that they do overcome the world and the flesh. While they live in the flesh, they walk not after the flesh; for if they did, they would not be saints. What is a religion worth that does not, as a matter of fact, overcome the flesh? The dominion of the flesh is sin, and does not the new birth imply a turning away from sin? Let it be for ever understood, that regeneration implies, not merely the conviction and the theory that the flesh ought to be overcome, but that it actually is overcome. The regenerate "do not sow to the flesh;" "do not live after the flesh;" "do not mind the flesh;" "do not war after the flesh;" "have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts;" "through the Spirit do mortify (kill) the deeds of the body;" "keep under their bodies, and bring them into subjection." This not only ought to be, but it must be, the character of a true saint.

(15.) The sinner is overcome by the flesh. Self-indulgence is his law. Some one or more of the phrenological, or constitutional impulses always control his will. He not only "lives in the flesh, but walks after the flesh." He "fulfills the desires of the flesh and of the mind." He is "carried away with his own lusts, and enticed." "His God is his belly," and "he minds earthly things." He "is in bondage to the flesh." This is his unfailing characteristic, that he is governed, not by the law of God, but by his own desires. He is the creature of impulse, and a sinner, just because he is so. With him to conquer the flesh is a matter of duty, of opinion, of theory, and not of actual performance and experience. He holds that he ought to overcome, but knows that he does not. He acknowledges the obligation in theory, but denies it in practice. He knows what he ought to do, but does it not. He knows what a Christian ought to be, but is aware that he is not what a Christian ought to be. There seems to be an infatuation among sinners, those especially that profess to be Christians. They can profess to be Christians, and yet know and acknowledge that they are not what Christians ought to be, strangely assuming that a man can be and is a Christian, who is not what a Christian ought to be: in other words, that he can be a Christian without possessing just that which constitutes a Christian; to wit, a heart conformed to the intellect's apprehension of duty. This is just what makes a Christian; not his seeing and acknowledging what he ought to be, but his actually doing his duty, his actually embracing and conforming to the truth. The deceived professor knows, that he is not free, that he is in bondage to his flesh and his desires, but hopes on, because he thinks that this is common to all Christians. He sees and approves the truth, and often resolves to overcome his flesh, but, as in the seventh of Romans, he "finds a law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin in his members." He can resolve, but does not carry out his resolves. When he resolves to do good, evil is present with him, and conquers him. Of all this he is conscious, but he has taken up the fatal delusion that this was Paul's experience at the time he wrote this chapter, and consequently, that it must be the experience of all Christians. He does not run his eye along into the eighth chapter, and see the contrast between the experience there portrayed, and affirmed to be the experience of all Christians. He does not observe, that the apostle is designing in these two chapters to contrast a Christian, with a legal and self-righteous experience, but holds on to his delusion, and observes not, that the apostle begins the eighth chapter by the affirmation, that all who are in Christ Jesus are delivered from the bondage of which he was speaking in the seventh chapter, and no longer walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit; that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has actually made them free from the law of sin and death, which is in their members. How strange that these chapters are so misunderstood and perverted. And how monstrous and how melancholy the fact, that the great mass of professing Christians, to this day, recognize the seventh and not the eighth chapter of Romans, as their own experience! According to this, the new birth or regeneration does not break the power of the propensities over the will. The truth is, and must not be disguised, that they have not a just idea of regeneration. They mistake conviction for regeneration. They are so enlightened, as to perceive and affirm their obligation to deny the flesh, and often resolve to do it, but, in fact, do it not. They only struggle with the flesh, but are continually worsted and brought into bondage; and this they call a regenerate state. O! sad. What then is regeneration good for? What does it avail? The Bible represents regeneration as a "being born from above," "being born of God," and expressly affirms, that "whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world," and affirms, that "whosoever is born of God does not commit sin, and cannot sin, because his seed (God's seed) remaineth in him, so that he cannot sin, because he is born of God;" "that he is a new creature, that old things are passed away, and that all things are become new;" "that he is alive from the dead;" that he "has crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts;" that "he is dead to sin, and alive unto God," and many such like representations: and yet, infinitely strange to tell, the seventh chapter of Romans is recognized as a Christian experience, in the face of the whole Bible, and in opposition to the very nature of regeneration, and the experience of every true saint. The sinner is a sinner just, and only, because he knows his duty and does it not. He apprehends the law of the intelligence, but minds the impulses of his sensibility. This is the very character which the apostle is so graphically portraying in the seventh chapter of Romans. He could not possibly have given a more graphic picture of a sinner when he is enlightened, and yet enslaved by his propensities. It is a full-length portrait of a sinner, enlightened and struggling for liberty, and yet continually falling and floundering under the galling bondage of his own lusts. And that this should be considered the experience of a regenerate heart!

Now let it be remembered, that just the difference between saints and sinners, and especially deceived professors, is expressed and clearly illustrated in the seventh and eighth chapters of Romans; and to do this was the very design of the writer of this epistle. The difference consists in just this: they both see what they ought to do; the one does it in fact, while the other only resolves to do it, but does it not. They both have bodies, and both have all the constitutional propensities. But the saint overcomes them all. He has the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him he is delivered from the body of sin and of death, and made free from the law of sin in his members. He is a conqueror, and more than a conqueror. The sinner only cries out, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" But he cannot add, "I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord," I am delivered, which is the evident meaning of the apostle, as appears from what immediately follows, in the beginning of the eighth chapter. The sinner sees his captivity and groans under it, but does not escape. They are both tempted. The saint overcomes through Christ. The sinner is overcome. The sinner is conquered, instead of being like the saint, a conqueror. He cannot exultingly say with the saint, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death;" but still complains with the captive, "I see a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!"

This lecture was given to us by Dennis Carroll.




(15.) The saints overcome Satan.

This is expressly taught in the scriptures. "I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father," 1 John ii. 13. The wicked are characterized as the "children of the devil;" "as led by him captive at his will;" as being "the subjects of Satan, the god of this world," and as having Satan ruling in their hearts.

But the saints are represented as being set at liberty from his power, as being delivered, not from his temptations, but actually saved from his dominion. The difference between the saint and the sinner, in this respect, is represented in the scriptures as consisting, not in the fact that sinners are tempted, while saints are not, but in this, that while Satan tempts both the saint and the sinner, he actually overcomes the sinner and the deceived professor, and leads him captive at his will. The true saint, through faith and strength in Christ, overcomes, and is more than a conqueror. The saint, through Christ, triumphs, while the sinner yields to his infernal influence, and is bound fast in his infernal chain.

(16.) The true saint denies himself. Self-denial must be his characteristic, just for the reason that regeneration implies this. Regeneration, as we have seen, consists in turning away the heart or will from the supreme choice of self-gratification, to a choice of the highest well-being of God and of the universe. This is denying self. This is abandoning self-indulgence, and pursuing or committing the will, and the whole being to an opposite end. This is the dethroning of self, and the enthroning of God in the heart. Self-denial does not consist, as some seem to imagine, in acts of outward austerity, in an ascetic and penance-doing course of starvation, and mere legal and outward retrenchment, in wearing plain clothes and using plain language, or in wearing a coat with one button, and in similar acts of "will worship and voluntary humility, and neglecting the body;" but self-denial consists in the actual and total renunciation of selfishness in the heart. It consists in ceasing wholly to live for self, and can be exercised just as truly upon a throne, surrounded with the paraphernalia of royalty, as in a cottage of logs, or as in rags, and in caves and dens of the earth. The king upon his throne may live and reign to please himself. He may surround himself with all that can minister to his pleasure, his ambition, his pride, his lusts, and his power. He may live to and for himself. Self-pleasing, self-gratification, self-aggrandizement, may be the end for which he lives. This is selfishness. But he may also live and reign for God, and for his people. He may be just as really self-denying on his throne, and surrounded by the trappings of state and of royalty, as any person in any other station of life. That is, he may be as really devoted to God, and render this as a service to God, as well as anything else. No doubt his temptation is great: but, nevertheless, he may be perfectly self-denying in all this. He may not do what he does for his own sake, nor be what he is, nor possess what he possesses for his own sake, but, accommodating his state and equipage to his relations, he may be as truly self-denying as others in the humbler walks of life. This is not an impossible, though, in all probability, a rare case. A man may as truly be rich for God as poor for him, if his relations and circumstances make it essential to his highest usefulness that he should possess a large capital. He is in the way of great temptation; but if this is plainly his duty, and submitted to for God and the world, he may have grace to be entirely self-denying in these circumstances, and all the more commendable, for standing fast under these circumstances. So a poor man may be poor from principle, or from necessity. He may be submissive and happy in his poverty. He may deny himself even the comforts of life, and do all this to promote the good of being, or he may do it to promote his own interest, temporal or eternal, to secure a reputation for piety, to appease a morbid conscience, to appease his fears, or to secure the favour of God. In all things he may be selfish. He may be happy in this, because it may be real self-denial; or he may be murmuring at his poverty, may complain, and be envious at others who are not poor. He may be censorious, and think everybody proud and selfish who dresses better, or possesses a better house or equipage than he does. He may set up his views as a standard, and denounce as proud and selfish all who do not square their lives by his rule. This is selfishness, and these manifestations demonstrate the fact. A man may forego the use of a coat, or a cloak, or a horse, or a carriage, or any and every comfort and convenience of life. And all this may proceed from either a benevolent or a selfish state of mind. If it be benevolence and true self-denial, it will be cheerfully and happily submitted to, without murmuring and repining, without censoriousness, and without envy towards others, without insisting that others shall do and be, just what and as he is. He will allow the judge his ermine, the king his robes of state, and the merchant his capital, and the husbandman his fields and his flocks, and will see the reasonableness and propriety of all this.

But if it be selfishness and the spirit of self-gratification instead of self-denial, he will be ascetic, caustic, sour, ill-natured, unhappy, severe, censorious, envious, and disposed to complain of, and pick at the extravagance and self-indulgence of others.

The true saint, in whatever relation of life, is truly self-denying. Whether on a throne, or on the dunghill, he neither lives, nor moves, nor breathes, nor eats, nor drinks, nor has his being for himself. Self is dethroned. God is enthroned in his heart. He lives to please God, and not to please himself. And whether he wears the crown and the purple, the ermine of the judge, or the gown of the counsellor, whether he cultivates the field or occupies the pulpit, whether he is engaged in merchandize, or whether he opens the ditch or plies a handicraft, whether in affluence or poverty, it matters not how circumstanced or how employed, as certainly as he is a true saint, just so certainly does he not live to or for himself. Of this he is as conscious as he is of living at all. He may be mistaken by others, and selfish ones may suppose him to be actuated by selfishness as they are; but in this they are deceived. The true saint will be sure to be found self-denying, when observed by the spirit of love, and judged by the law of love. Love would readily perceive, that those things which a censorious and selfish spirit ascribe to selfishness are to be accounted for in another way; that they are really consistent with, and indeed instances of self-denial. The spirit of self-pleasing and of accommodating ourselves to our circumstances and relations for benevolent reasons, may by a candid mind be generally readily distinguished from each other. The selfish will naturally confound them and stumble at them, simply because they have only the experience of selfishness, and judge others by themselves. A truly self-denying mind will naturally also judge others by itself, in such a sense as to take it for granted, that others are self-denying, unless the manifest indications strongly urge to an opposite opinion.

A man of truth is not wont to suspect others of lying, without strong evidence of the fact, and then, although he may be sure that he tells a falsehood, the man of truth is ready rather to ascribe the falsehood to mistake, than to call it a lie. So the truly benevolent man is not wont to suspect others of selfishness without strong evidence. Nor will the truly self-denying man readily suspect his brother of selfishness, even in things that, prima facie, have that appearance. He will rather naturally infer, that his health, or circumstances, or something consistent with self-denial accounts for what he does.

Especially does the true saint deny his appetites and passions. His artificial appetites he denies absolutely, whenever his attention is called to the fact and the nature of the indulgence. The Christian is such just because he has become the master of his appetites and passions, has denied them, and consecrated himself to God. The sinner is a sinner just because his appetites and passions and the impulses of his desires are his masters, and he bows down to them, and serves them. They are his masters, instead of his servants, as they are made to be. He is consecrated to them and not to God. But the saint has ceased to live to gratify his lusts. Has he been a drunkard, a rake, a tobacco user? has he been in self-indulgent habits of any kind; he is reformed: old things are past away, and behold all things are become new. Has he still any habit the character of which he has either mistaken or not considered; such as smoking, chewing, or snuffing tobacco, using injurious stimulants of any kind, high and unwholesome living, extravagant dressing, or equipage, retiring late at night and rising late in the morning, eating too much, or between meals, or in short, has there been any form of self-indulgence about him whatever? only let his attention be called to it, he will listen with candour, be convinced by reasonable evidence, and renounce his evil habits without conferring with flesh and blood. All this is implied in regeneration, and must follow from its very nature. This also the Bible everywhere affirms to be true of the saints. "They have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." It should be for ever remembered, that a self-indulgent Christian is a contradiction. Self-indulgence and Christianity are terms of opposition. The states of mind designated by these two words are opposite states of mind. This is precisely the difference between a saint and a sinner, that the saint is self-denying, and the sinner self-indulgent. The saint is the lord and master of all his appetites and passions. He rules them, and not they him. Whether he eats or drinks, or whatever he does, he does all for God and not to gratify himself. The sinner is the slave of his appetites and passions. It is not in his heart to deny them. Some appetite or propensity always rules over him. He complains that he cannot abandon certain indulgences. He is in bondage to his own lusts, and led captive by them. Seest thou then a self-indulgent professor of religion? If he be really so, imagine not that you have found a Christian, but know assuredly, that you behold a hypocrite; for this is as certain as that he is alive. The true saint does not complain that he cannot give up any self-indulgent habit whatever. He can, and must, and does, if he be truly regenerate, give up and forsake every species of mere self-indulgence. Grace has obtained for him a victory; and instead of his complaining that he cannot conquer his propensities, he knows that he is more than a conqueror through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(17.) The sinner does not deny himself. He may not gratify all his desires, because the desires are often contradictory, and he must deny one for the sake of indulging another. Avarice may be so strong as to forbid his indulging in extravagance in eating, drinking, dressing, or equipage. His love of reputation may be so strong as to prevent his engaging in anything disgraceful, and so on. But self-indulgence is his law notwithstanding. The fear of hell, or his desire to be saved, may forbid his outward indulgence in any known sin. But still he lives, and moves, and has his being only for the sake of indulging himself. He may be a miser, and starve and freeze himself, and deny himself the necessaries of life, yet self-indulgence is his law. One propensity may lord it over and starve the rest; but it is only self-indulgence after all. The nun may take the veil; the monk may retire to the cloister; the miser take his rags; the harlot seek the brothel; the debauchee his indulgences; the king his throne; the priest his desk; all for the same ultimate reason, to wit, to gratify self, to indulge each one his reigning lust. But in every possible case every sinner, whatever may be his station, his habits or pursuits, is self-indulgent, and only self-indulgent, and that continually. Some lusts he may and must control, as they may be inconsistent with others. But others he knows, and it will be seen that he does not control. He is a slave. He bows down to his lusts and serves them. He is enslaved by his propensities, so that he cannot overcome them. This demonstrates that he is a sinner and unregenerate, whatever his station and profession may be. One who cannot, because he will not, conquer himself and his lusts; this is the definition of an unregenerate sinner. He is one over whom some form of desire, or lust, or appetite, or passion has dominion. He cannot, or rather will not, overcome it. This one is just as certainly in sin, as that sin is sin. Do you hear that professor of religion? He says he knows that he ought to give up such a lust or habit, but he cannot give it up. Why, in thus saying, he gives higher evidence of being an unregenerate sinner or a loathsome backslider, than if he should take his oath of it. O that it were known and constantly borne in mind, what regeneration is! How many thousands of deceived professors would it undeceive! A self-indulgent regenerate soul is a perfect contradiction, as much so as to speak of a disinterestedly benevolent selfishness, or of a self-indulgent self-denial, or an unregenerate regeneration, a sinful holiness, or a holy sinfulness. These things are eternal and necessary opposites. They never do nor can, by any possibility, be reconciled, or dwell together in the same heart. With the sinner or selfish professor, self-denial is a theory, an opinion, an article of faith. But he knows if he will but admit the conviction, that he does not live for God; that he does not eat and drink, and dress, and sleep, and wake, and do whatever he does--for God. He knows he ought to do so, and hopes he does in some measure, but he knows all the while that the preponderance of his life is self-indulgent. When this is so, nothing but infatuation can cause him to cling to his delusion.

(18.) The truly regenerate soul overcomes sin.

Let the Bible be heard upon this subject. "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."--1 John ii. 3, 4. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin, is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."--1 John iii. 3-10. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God, and every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."--1 John v. 1-4.

These passages, understood and pressed to the letter, would not only teach, that all regenerate souls overcome and live without sin, but also that sin is impossible to them. This last circumstance, as well as other parts of Scripture, forbid us to press this strong language to the letter. But this much must be understood and admitted, that to overcome sin is the rule with every one who is born of God, and that sin is only the exception; that the regenerate habitually live without sin, and fall into sin only at intervals, so few and far between, that in strong language it may be said in truth they do not sin. This is surely the least which can be meant by the spirit of these texts, not to press them to the letter. And this is precisely consistent with many other passages of Scripture, several of which I have quoted; such as these:-- "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."--2 Cor. v. 17. "For in Jesus Christ, neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love."--Gal. v. 6. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature."--Gal. vi. 15. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."--Rom. viii. 1-4. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is free from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."--Rom. vi. 1-14.

There is not a greater heresy and a more dangerous dogma, than that true Christians actually live a great majority of their days in sin. Such an opinion is in palpable contradiction of the Bible, and absurd in principle. Many persons seem to have the idea, and this idea is often dropped, directly or indirectly implied from the pulpit, that truly regenerate souls may, and do often live mostly in sin; that they live by far the greater part of their time in a backslidden state, so far at least as their heart is concerned; that they seldom or never truly and fully obey God, and live up to their duty. Now such representations are not only flatly contrary to the Bible, but they are a greater snare and stumbling-block than universalism, or almost any form of heresy that can be named. The fact is, if God is true, and the Bible is true, the truly regenerate soul has overcome the world, the flesh, and Satan, and sin, and is a conqueror, and more than a conqueror. He triumphs over temptation as a general thing, and the triumphs of temptation over him are so far between, that it is said of him in the living oracles, that he does not, cannot sin. He is not a sinner, but a saint. He is sanctified; a holy person; a child and son of God. If at any time he is overcome, it is only to rise again, and soon return like the weeping prodigal. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand."--Psalm xxxvii. 23, 24.

I know that it is natural and common to appeal to experience and observation, in support of the dogma I am opposing. But how infinitely dangerous and wicked this is! What! appeal to supposed facts in history and Christian experience, to confront and withstand the express assertions of inspiration? When God expressly tells us who are Christians, and what is true of them, does it become us to turn round and say, Nay, Lord, for we and our neighbours are Christians, and this is not true of us. Who does not see the guilt and danger of this? And yet it seems to be common for professors of religion tacitly to assume, if not openly to avow, that true Christians may and do live, for the greater part of their lives, in sin.

This persuasion seems to be strengthened by the supposed fact, that David and Solomon lived a greater part of their time in sin. But this is an unwarrantable assumption. The psalms of David, taking their subject, and spirit, and dates into view, as well as many other considerations, render it evident, that he was a highly spiritual man, and that his backslidings were few and far between, and of but short duration.

The Proverbs, the Song and the Ecclesiastes of Solomon, are sufficient proof, that most of his days were not spent in sin. Some have supposed that, inasmuch as the high places were not removed, and that idolatry was openly practised under a great part of his reign, that therefore he must all this time have been away from God. But this may be accounted for if we consider, that the high places and idolatry continued through the reigns of some of the pious kings who succeeded him, doubtless for the reason, that neither he nor they had political power and influence enough to suppress it. The book of Ecclesiastes gives, on the face of it, the highest evidence of having been written after his return from a season of backsliding and scepticism, for very much of it is only a statement of his sceptical views at that time. But really there is no sufficient proof that Solomon, who was manifestly a type of Christ, lived a majority, or anything like a majority, of his days in sin.

But whatever may have been true of Solomon, and of the saints of those comparatively dark days, the New Testament has settled the question, that now, under the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, whoever is born of God doth not commit sin. The passages that I have quoted must settle this point. The sixth and eighth of Romans is the experience of the regenerate soul.

In considering the attributes of benevolence, I have shown, that stability is one of its attributes, to which I would here refer the reader (Lecture XXII. 24). In respect to the philosophy of Christians overcoming sin, I would observe, that the Bible assures us, that whosoever is born of God does not, cannot sin, because his seed remaineth in him, that is, God's seed remaineth in him. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." In 1 Peter i. 23, we are informed, that this seed is "the word of God." "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." God has begotten him (for so the word should be rendered in 1 John iii. 9.) by his word, and his seed remaineth in him. The truth that overcame his will, and subdued or regenerated him, remains in him, in such a sense, that it is said he cannot sin. It is so lodged in his memory, and so pressed upon him by the indwelling Spirit of Christ, as to secure his habitual obedience; and he is only sometimes overcome by force of strong temptation, when, for the time, his attention is drawn away from the truth or seed of God, which after all is lodged within him. It has a permanent lodgement in his memory, although it may not be attended to in some moments of strong temptation. Now, whatever the philosophy of this fact may be, it is a declared fact of inspiration that "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." The connection in which these words are found, as well as other parts of scripture, shows that this must respect the general character of regenerate souls; that having been subdued by the word and the Spirit of God, and the seed remaining in them, they cannot consent to live in sin; that they love God and hate sin so much by virtue of their new and heavenly birth, that they will not sin, unless it may possibly be, that by force of great temptation they may fall into occasional sins, and those so seldom, that it can be said in general language that they do not, cannot sin.

(19.) The sinner and the deceived professor is the slave of sin. The seventh of Romans is his experience in his best estate. When he has the most hope of himself, and others have the most hope of his good estate, he goes no further than to make and break resolutions. His life is but a death in sin. He has not the victory. He sees the right, but does it not. Sin is his master, to whom he yields himself a servant to obey. He only tries, as he says, to forsake sin, but does not in fact forsake it, in his heart. And yet, because he is convicted, and has desires, and forms resolutions of amendment, he hopes he is regenerated. O, what a horrible delusion! Stop short with conviction, with the hope that he is already a Christian! Alas! how many are already in hell who have stumbled at this stumbling-stone!

(20.) The Christian is charitable in his judgments.

This is natural to him by reason of his regeneration. He now loves everybody, and seeks their good. "Love hopeth all things, and believeth all things." It is natural to us to judge charitably of those whom we love, and whose virtue and happiness we greatly desire. It is also natural for us to interpret the conduct of others by reference to our own consciousness. If we are conscious of uprightness of intention, it is natural to ascribe the conduct of others to upright intentions, unless it be manifest that it is not so. Not only the Bible forbids rash and censorious judging of the motives or character of others, but it everywhere assumes, and implies, and teaches that truly regenerate persons are charitable in their judgments. This is an attribute of true religion, and there is scarcely anything in which the difference between saints and sinners is more manifest, than in regard to this feature of their characters. A truly benevolent mind cannot be censorious. It is a contradiction to say, that one who is benevolent can judge, and think, and speak censoriously of any one. Charity is kind, is courteous, is forbearing. A ruling disposition to promote the good of any one, cannot lead or allow us rashly to impeach his motives, to judge him in a manner more severe than the circumstances of the case compel us to do.

Again: as a regenerate state consists in benevolence or good-will to all beings, it implies as sacred a regard to the feelings and reputation of our neighbour, as we have to our own. Therefore a regenerate soul cannot be a slanderer, a tale-bearer, or a busy-body in other men's matters. A regenerate soul will not, and, remaining regenerate, cannot, take up an evil report of a neighbour, and believe it, but upon the strongest evidence. And when compelled to believe an evil report, he will not give any greater publicity to it, than the interests of religion seem imperiously to demand. This must be universally true of a truly benevolent mind. A disposition to believe evil, and to report it of any one, is totally incompatible with good-will to universal being, so that, if we see this disposition in a professor of religion toward any one, we may know that his profession of religion is vain. "If any man seemeth to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."

The saint loves his enemies. The things commanded in the gospel are really true of the saints. They are not only required of all men, but they are facts in the life and experience of the saints. The saints really love their enemies, bless them that curse them, do good to those that hate them, and pray for them that despitefully use and persecute them.

(21.) The impenitent, whether professors of religion or not, are censorious in their judgments, and slanderous in their conversation. They are selfish, and, of course, have ambitious projects and envious feelings, and these petty interests and projects are continually interfered with by the interests and projects of others around them. They judge others by themselves. They know themselves to be hypocritical in their professions, selfish in their aims, false in their pretences, ambitious in their schemes, envious in their spirit; and, in short, they are conscious of so much that is wrong, that they naturally interpret the motives and character of others by their own. They do not realize, that their censorious speeches and rash and uncharitable judgments are but a result and a revelation of their hypocrisy. But their own oath, that they are hypocrites, could not add to the weight of evidence afforded by their manifest want of charity, as revealed in their taking up a suspicion, a rumour, and giving it publicity to the dishonour and injury of their neighbour. I have learned never to confide in a censorious man or woman. "O my soul, come not thou into their secret! unto their assembly, mine honour be not thou united." They are false, and will betray Christ to justify self.

(22.) Christians, or truly regenerate souls, experience great and present blessedness in their religion. They do not seek their own happiness as the supreme good, but find it in their disinterested efforts to promote the well-being of others. Their state of mind is itself the harmony of the soul. Happiness is both a natural result of virtue, and also its governmental reward. Christians enjoy religion just for the reason, that they are disinterested in it, that is, precisely for the reason, that their own enjoyment is not the end which they seek: and selfish professors do not enjoy their religion, just for the reason, that their own enjoyment is the end at which they aim. If I seek the good of being as an end, I am happy for three reasons:--

(i.) It results from the approbation of my own conscience.

(ii.) From the smile of God upon my soul, and the conscious communion and fellowship I have with him; and:--

(iii.) I gain my end upon which my heart is set, and this is a sweet gratification. Thus I am triply blessed. But if I seek my own happiness as an end, I fail to obtain it, for three reasons:--

(i.) My conscience, instead of approving, upbraids me.

(ii.) God, instead of smiling, either withholds his face altogether from, or frowns upon me. He withdraws communion and fellowship from me.

(iii.) I do not secure my end, and therefore I am not gratified but disappointed. Suppose I seek the conversion of a sinner, not from disinterested love to his soul, but from a desire to promote my own happiness. Now, if he is converted, I am not made happy thereby, for three reasons--

(i.) My conscience is not satisfied with my motives.

(ii.) God is not; therefore, he does not smile upon me.

(iii.) His conversion was not the end I sought, and therefore in his conversion I am not gratified; that is, I have not attained my end, which was not the salvation of that soul, but my own happiness. But, if I seek his salvation disinterestedly, I am doubly blessed if he is not converted, and triply blessed if he is:--

(i.) Whether he is saved or not, my conscience approves my intentions and efforts, and smiles upon my soul.

(ii.) God accepts the will for the deed, and blesses me, as if I had succeeded. Thus, I am doubly blessed.

(iii.) But, if he is saved, I have gained my end, and thus am gratified.

So, I am triply blessed. A saint is and must be happy in his religion. He has his temptations, but the Lord delivers him, and makes him blessed.

(23.) The selfish professor--

(i.) Has not true peace of conscience.

(ii.) He has not the smile, communion, and fellowship of God.

(iii.) He is not disinterested, and cannot rejoice in the glory of God, and the advancement of his kingdom for its own sake, and, therefore, his soul is not filled with peace and joy in believing. His religion is rather his task, than his life, and his joy. He is rather religious, because he must be, than because he may be. He prays because he must, rather than because he may. With him, religion is rather what it will not do to neglect, than what he delights in for its own sake. His enjoyment, such as it is, is only a self-righteous enjoyment. It is not the soul's harmony with itself, with God, and with all the holy, and with the eternal laws of order. He knows that his religion is not soul-satisfying, but sees so many professors around him manifesting the same state of mind in which he knows himself to be, that he thinks that all Christians find religion in this world rather a task and a burden than a delight, and therefore he is not disposed to relinquish his hope. He anticipates happiness in future, but, at present, he knows he is not happy.

(24.) True saints rejoice to see souls converted and God glorified by any instrumentality. But hypocrites do not rejoice in this for its own sake, and are apt to be envious and jealous, unless they, or their friends, or denomination, are the instruments.

(25.) Christians would do all they could for God's glory and the world's conversion, whether it was ever known or rewarded, or not. But sinners would do little or nothing, except out of respect to applause and reward.

(26.) Christians have the Spirit of Christ.

(i.) Their bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"--1 Cor. vi. 19. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."--Rom. viii. 9-11.

(ii.) Their bodies are the temple of Christ. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."--Rom. viii. 9, 10. "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be reprobates?"--2 Cor. xiii. 5. "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."--Col. i. 27. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."--John xiv. 23. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."--Gal. ii. 20. "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love."--Eph. iii. 17.

(27.) Christians have the Spirit of adoption. "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."--Rom. viii. 15. "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."--Gal. iv. 6.

(28.) They have the fruits of the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts."--Gal. v. 22-24.

(29.) Christians are led by the Spirit. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."--Rom. viii. 14. "But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."--Gal. v. 18, 25.

(30.) They have the Spirit of prayer. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."--Rom. viii. 26, 27.

(31.) They have the law written in their hearts. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."--Jer. xxxi. 31-34. This passage the apostle quotes in Heb. viii. 8-12, and applies to Christians under the new dispensation. The law that was written upon the tables of stone is written, by the Holy Spirit, in the hearts of Christians. That is, the spirit of love demanded by the law, is begotten in their hearts. In other words, they are truly regenerated, and love God with all their hearts, and their neighbour as themselves.

I might notice many other particulars in which saints and sinners differ, but perhaps I have said enough for this course of study. If you return to the attributes of selfishness and benevolence, you will there find a fuller developement of this subject. Of course, the manifestation of the attributes of benevolence is conclusive proof of a regenerate state, for all those attributes are only so many modifications of true religion, and their manifestation is proof of its existence.

So, on the other hand, the attributes of selfishness are only so many modifications of sin, and their manifestation is proof positive of an unholy and unregenerate state of mind.

There are many other things that might be said, indeed volumes might be written upon this subject, in addition to what has appeared. But one thing is worthy of special remark. Mistaken notions in regard to the nature of regeneration have led to false methods of estimating the evidences of regeneration. Most persons and most writers seem to appeal almost exclusively, or at least in a great measure, to the feelings or states of the sensibility, for evidence of regeneration. Nothing can be more dangerous and deceptive than this. They, regarding regeneration as a change in or of the sensibility, look thither of course for the evidences of the change. The Bible appeals to the life, instead of the feelings, for evidence of regeneration. It assumes the true philosophy of regeneration, that it belongs to the will, and that it must, of course, and of necessity, appear directly and uniformly in the life. So many circumstances influence the feelings that they cannot be depended on. They will effervesce, or be calm, as circumstances change. But the outward life must, by a law of necessity, always obey the will. Therefore the appeal can more safely be made to it than to anything else that lies open to the inspection of human eyes.

The subject of regeneration may know, and if honest he must know, for what end he lives. There is, perhaps, nothing of which he may be more certain than of his regenerate or unregenerate state; and if he will keep in mind what regeneration is, it would seem that he can hardly mistake his own character, so far as to imagine himself to be regenerate when he is not. The great difficulty that has been in the way of the regenerate soul's knowing his regeneration, and has led to so much doubt and embarrassment upon this subject, is that regeneration has been regarded as belonging to the sensibility, and hence the attention has been directed to the ever-fluctuating feelings for evidence of the change. No wonder that this has led conscientious souls into doubt and embarrassment. But let the subject of regeneration be disenthralled from a false philosophy, and let it be known that the new heart consists in supreme disinterested benevolence, or in entire consecration to God, and then who cannot know for what end he lives, or what is the supreme preference or intention of his soul? If men can settle any question whatever beyond all doubt by an appeal to consciousness, it would seem that this must be the question. Hence the Bible enjoins it as an imperative duty to know ourselves, whether we are Christians. We are to know each other by our fruits. This is expressly given in the Bible as the rule of judgment in the case. The question is not so much, What are the man's opinions? as, What does he live for? Does he endeavour to promote true religion, love to God and man? Does he manifest a charitable state of mind? Does he manifest the attributes of benevolence in the various circumstances in which he is placed? O, when shall the folly of judging men more by their opinions and feelings, than by the tenor of their lives cease? It seems difficult to rid men of the prejudice that religion consists in feelings and in experiences, in which they are altogether passive. Hence they are continually prone to delusion upon the most momentous of all questions. Nothing can break this spell but the steady and thorough inculcation of the truth, in regard to the nature of regeneration.


Introduction ---New Window

LECTURES 1-7 of page 1 ---New Window

LECTURES 8-16 of page 2 ---New Window

LECTURES 17-30 of page 3 ---New Window

LECTURES 31-38 of page 4 ---New Window

LECTURES 39-47 of page 5 (this page)

LECTURES 48-57 of page 6 ---New Window

LECTURES 58-67 of page 7 ---New Window

LECTURES 68-74 of page 8 ---New Window

LECTURES 75-80 of page 9 ---New Window

LECTURES 81-83 of page 10 ---New Window

APPENDIX on page 11 ---New Window


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