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like the wind, have taken us away." So far are our best actions, in our natural state, from nelping us, that even they are polluted and loathsome; and sin, like a whirlwind unop posed, sweeps us onward to perdition.
But I foresee an objection, which some of the more moral may make.
Perhaps you exclaim, "I have not committed many of the sins here named." Perhaps not. I am here showing you your own lost condition, by referring you to those sad fruits which your depraved heart, unless by one means or other prevented, would produce; and which, in millions of cases, have been produced. The restraints of education, or other things, may have checked in you some of these corruptions; but this makes no alteration, as to your natural sinfulness. If, in spring, you were to cast one handful of wheat into the ground, and lay another by ir a drawer, would you, in autumn, say of thawhich had been laid by, this is not wheat, because it might not have put forth the blade and the ear? No, it would still be wheat, still be of the same nature as that scattered in the ground, though its situation had prevented its growing, and producing fruit like that. So it is with human nature. In some situations its corruptions may not be so visible as in others; in some situations those
corruptions may not have the same nourishment as in others; or may meet with more restraints; like the grain of corn, which is buried so deep that it can scarcely push its blade above the surface of the soil. All this may take place. All this does take place, in thousands of instances, but human nature, in its radical corruption, is every where the same; like wheat which is wheat still, whether it vegetates in the furrow, ripens in the ear, or is treasured up in the barn.
Allow me, my young friend, after this general view, to descend a little into some particulars.
The word of God, in describing your natural condition, represents it as so "extremely sinful," that, while you are in it, nothing which you do can be pleasing to God. "They that
are in the flesh (under the government of that corruption which is named flesh) cannot please God." So entire is this corruption, that an apostle confesses, “I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." So completely is the soul indisposed by it to all that is really good, that men are "dead in trespasses and sins." How awful is their delusion, who are strangers to real religion, and yet flatter themselves that there is something good in them to recommend them to God. Their best actions flow from
corrupt motives, and are in his sight but a kind of splendid sins.
In pursuing this melancholy description of your natural condition, I must add, that man is not only so extremely sinful, that he cannot please God; but so blind, that he is entirely ignorant of what is acceptable in his Maker's sight. Our Lord himself declares, that the design of his gospel is to open the eyes of men, "and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." He assures us that he came to " preach recovering of sight to the blind." His most distinguished apostle affirms, that even the followers of Christ " were sometime in darkness;" that he and they had been "delivered from the power of darkness;" and humbly confesses," we ourselves also were sometime foolish, disobedient, deceived;" being blinded by those false hopes and delusions, which deceive thousands now. So destructive is this blindness, that men "know not the way of peace." So entire, that the sullen ox and stupid ass know more of their masters, than unenlightened man of his God. "The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master's crib, but Israel doth not know, my people do not consider." So awful is this blindness, that the "natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of
God, for they are foolishness unto him." Even "the preaching of the cross" itself, "is to them that perish foolishness." And so wilful that "men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil;" and, proceeding in their career of madness, "fools make a mock at sin." Is it possible, my young friend, to give a sadder representation of the natural blindness of the heart, than these passages give? Sin, which God declares to be the cause of misery, death, and hell, men treat as a matter of foolish ridicule and mad laughter; while that glorious plan of salvation, which so magnifies the wisdom and love of God, that it astonishes the angels of heaven, even this is folly in the view of poor unconverted men. The man who would laugh at a thousand swords aimed at his defenceless head, or pointed at his naked breast, were wiser than he who laughs at sin. Less foolish were the wretch who should treat as folly a plan to deliver him from the condemned cell, the halter, the gibbet, or the fire, than he who thus treats the wondrous plan, which God has devised, to save him from the flames of hell.
Shall I stop here? No. The word of God does not. The sacred writers continue the deplorable account of fallen man, by declaring
that he is not only polluted and blind, but under the influence of the worst foe of God and man. The devil, on account of his extensive reign, is called, by them, the "god of this world; the prince of the power of the air;" and he and the wicked spirits that have fallen with him "are the rulers of the darkness of this world." The ungodly are of their father "the devil; he works in the hearts of the children of disobedience;" he takes away the seed that is sown in the thoughtless heart; he blinds the minds of the irreligious; and where the gospel is hid, it is hid through his influence. They are in "the snare of the devil," and are "led сарtive by him at his will." They who neglect religion, to follow the world, are "turned aside after Satan ;" and, lest you should imagine that these deplorable assertions refer merely to the most openly ungodly, you are assured, by the divine Saviour himself, that the design of his gospel is "to bring men from the power of Satan unto God," and that the tares, or all who are not in reality the children of God, "are the children of the wicked one." The apostle Paul confesses that he and his christian friends once were of this number; the apostle John as solemnly teaches us, that all men are either the chil