« PreviousContinue »
Dyer's Followers of the Lamb, 174
W. O., Memoir of, 173
Female Servants, (Our), 391
The fatal influence of Speculative Infidelity
by the Rev. R. Redpath, 105
The Soul responsible to God for its religious
Friendly Appeals, 391
of Salvation, by the Rev. T. W.Jenkyn,
Morison's Appeal to Sunday School Teach- The Misery of a Ruined Soul in this world,
by the Rev. H. S.:Seaborn, 447
-Oxford Sermon, 214
Smith (Dr. Pye), on irreligious Parliamen.
tary Candidates, 351
Sermons (Fifteen), 478
Standing Armies, 128
Spalding's, Ann, 259
Sunday Travelling, 224
Theology, on the study of, 41
-What have I to do with Missions ? 391 Trust in God, 165
Walton (Rev. W.), Sermon by, 199
Wesleyan Conference, 392
Waterbury's Book for the Sabbath, 259 Year (New), Sermon for, 15
Young (J. W.) Lines by, 3
THE UNIVERSAL DISPOSITION TO SIN.
BY DR. CHALMERS.
Tae disposition to sin is to be considered separately from the guilt of sin. The act is distinct from the guilt; the one being a fact, the other a principle. The fact of an inherent disposition to sin, is to be learned from sinful doings, or from sinful desires; from the light of conscience, or the testimony of others. From the outward tendency we may tell the inward disposition ; for we do not dig into the spring, in order to ascertain the quality of the stream. We cannot look into the hearts of animals; but their dispositions are evident from their conduct; as the faithfulness of the dog, the ferocity of the tiger, the gentleness of the dove. The ferocity was not imparted to the tiger by education, or climate, or accident; for every individual of the species, in whatever circumstances placed, manifests the same. Its strength and universality prove it to have formed part of his origival structure; and in the same way as the structure of the stomach exposes him to hunger, this disposition leads him cruelly to torture his prey, before satisfying his appetite. Supposing, for a moment, that these acts of cruelty were sinful in such animals, we can easily perceive how the sins of two individuals of them might vary in circumstances; yet both have the same original dispositions. Here, then, we have the distinction between original and actual sin, so much lauded by some, and decried by others. If the same thing can be shown of man, in all his varieties and circumstances, then it will be evident, that he sins not from education, or circumstances, or example; 'but because he is a man; because the noxious virus bas infected his whole moral constitution; because the pervading innate tendency to evil, has spread itself over all his nature,
nd presents itself in every part of it-like the ferocity of the tiger, the odour of the rose, or the poison of the fox.glove. The innate disposition is proved in the same way as in the inferior animals; and the conclusion in one case is as warrantable as in the other. If we knew a planet, with inhabitants of the same form, features, and faculties as ourselves, surrounded with the same scenery and accommodations, but who withal were righteous, unlike ourselves; should we be wrong in inferring an original difference of constitution, from this universal difference of conduct ? We have only to ascertain that it is universal, to infer that it was original. If we see cruelty in all the individuals of a tribe, we conclude it to be inherent in the race; and we predicate that in all future individuals it will be found to exist. We express a general fact by a general term. And we do no more with respect to our own species.
It may be thought that the records of history do not furnish sufficient evidence to establish this position. The actors on that stage, it is true, have given abundant evidence of having been tainted with the moral pestilence; and all whom we see around us do the same; but yet it may be supposed, that in private life, there inay exist some beautiful specimens of untainted piety and unblemished worth ; in which even the eye of Omniscience may see nothing amiss. It is not possible to meet this
objection by passing all men in review before you; you cannot make all manifest to others; but you can make each manifest to himself
. And this is the great object in preaching. Put it to a man's conscience; and put him on his defence. Enter with him into the recesses of his heart, and reveal to him the hidden springs of wickedness there. Prove to him, that though he may spurn at injustice, or blush at indelicacy, he never does one act that God set him about. He may go to church; but custom sets him at it. He may be charitable; but the pleasurable emotions arising from benevolence set him at it. He may work industriously for his family; but the desire of reputation sets him at it. Ile may practise good works; but the wish for applause sets him at it. And all this is done, without one recollection or recognition of God. This is true with respect to every heart. It may go many ways to attain its object; but the characteristic of all is unconcern about God. Look at angels, and the delights they feel in obeying God; and are you the difference is only accidental, without a cause? Shall we be so unphilosophical as to attribute it to a random contingency? Where is the error in saying there is a prior corrupt tendency in the one, and not in the other?
But here we cannot but express an opinion, that they miss their object, who indulge in sweeping indiscriminate charges against human character, in the face of all experience. Conciliate your hearers by conceding many amiable qualities to human nature; instead of placing all on the same level, which is disgusting to the sensibility as well as judgment of the audience. Fasten on the disloyalty to God, which is the basis of all. Many teachers, we know, have arisen, who would tolerate impiety, if they could but school away selfishness, cruelty, and fraud. Rous
be said to have abjured Christianity; yet he plied all Europe with the spells of his captivating eloquence. Many devotedly admired him, and after his death made a pilgrimage to his tomb; and thought he had sown the seeds of a great moral elevation of our race; but even he lived long enough to acknowledge, that human nature was deeply tainted with disease; and to retire, in disgust, from a world he had so highly lauded. What Rousseau was in prose, Lord Byron was in poetry. Not that be endeavoured to make the world better; for he seems, in the bitterness of his heart, to have despaired of it. He saw that the whole head was sick, and the whole heart faint, that the deadly virus hail totally pervaded it; and he gave back, reflected from his own mind, images of its depravity. We should have liked to see him led to the source of this moral disease, for he seems to have caught passing glimpses of its truth.
“ Our life is a false nature ; 'tis not in
And (worse) the woes we see not; which thrill through
Th’immedicable soul, with heart-aches ever new !"* In the pulpit, while you urge home this constant habit of the heart, forgetfulness of God, you should concede many estimable qualities. For this reason we regret Luther's expression, as being liable to misconstruction, that virtues are splendid sins. We should be sorry to revolt our hearers. The naked truths of the Gospel are sufficiently humiliating, and do not require aggravation; and while asserting with zeal every doctrine of the Bible, we should remember, that zeal without discretion injures the cause we seek to support. Such round observations are obnoxious to taste and understanding; and an observing man will not go along with you. True, human nature is a ruin; but surely it is not one scene of unvaried deformity. There have been many traits of character, worthy of our best esteem, not produced by Christianity, because exhibited long before Christianity arose. You may concede to the scholar, that the classic page of antiquity sparkles with many a gem of all that is bright in character and conduct; maternal affection,
*“ Childe Harold's Pilgrimage;" Canto 4; verse 126.