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ity is not an unmeaning phrase, but a most solemn and important truth, which is inseparably connected with the leading and fundamenal doctrines of the christian religion.
3. We learn from what has been said, that the total depravity of sinners does not destroy, nor diminish their obligation to obey the divine commands. It appears, that their total depravity consists wholly in the corruption of their hearts. Their intellectual faculties remain uncorrupt. Their perception, reason, and conscience, are in their full strength and vigor. And these are the sole ground of moral obligation. To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. Satan knows to do good, notwithstanding the to. tal corruption of his heart, and therefore he is under the same obligation he ever was, to love and obey his Maker. And since the total depravity of sinners does not destroy their knowledge of duty, it does not destroy their obligation to do it. Moral obligation does not depend in the least degree upon the disposition of the heart. Whether men have good or bad hearts, they are equally obliged to love and serve their Creator. Accordingly God never makes the least allowance for the corruption of their hearts, in any
of his precepts and prohibitions. Though he knew, that the Israelites in general were totally depraved, when he gave the law at Mount Sinai; yet he required them to love hirn with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength, upon pain of eternal destruction. And though Christ knew that the Jews were of their father the devil, and totally depraved; yet he required them to be perfect even as their Father in heaven is perfect. The divine commands fall with all their weight and authority upon the consciences of sinners. Their depravity of heart lessens not their
obligation to obedience. They have as much to do as other men. They have to obey all the commands in the Bible. They have to read, and pray, and do every thing, that good men have to do. The total corruption of their hearts will not afford them the least excuse for the least disaffection to God, nor for the least disobedience to any of his commands.
4. We learn from what has been said, why God condemns the best as well as the worst actions of sin, ners. Every one can see a reason, why God should condemn their open'vices and immoralities; but many can see no reason why he should condemn their apparent love, obedience, and devotion. But we find he does, for some reason or other, condemn their best as well as their worst actions, in the plainest and strongest terms. "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord. I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. I hate, I despise, your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though you offer me burnt-offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peaceofferings of your fat beasts.” Such sacrifices, prayers, and religious devotions of sinners, may be considered as their best performances; but these God expressly says he abhors and condemns. And the reason is plain and obvious. The best performances of sinners proceed from the same totally corrupt heart, from which their open vices and immoralities proceed, and therefore are equally corrupt and sinful. When sinners came before God with a corrupt heart, they come
at their peril; for God tells them, that he never required them to come in such a manner. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand to tread my courts?" Yea, he forbids them to come and worship him with an unfriendly heart. “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies I cannot away with: it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting, Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine
eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear.” God looketh not on the outward appearance, but upon the heart. He views the best actions of sinners as flowing from a totally corrupt heart, and therefore abhors and condemns them as altogether criminal. • 5. We learn from what has been said, why none of the works of sinners will be accepted, at the last day. Our Savior, who will be the final Judge, has absolutely declared, that he will condemn al sinners and all their works, without distinction, in the great day of account. And though they may plead, that they have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and done many deeds of apparent humanity and benevolence; yet he will reject and punish them, for that criminal selfishness, which was the source of all their actions. And this will be a sufficient reason for their everlasting perdition. If the hearts of all sinners are totally depraved, and if all their actions proceed from their totally corrupt hearts, then Christ may with the greatest propriety, place them all at his left hand, and condemn all their actions, when he comes to judge the world in righteousness. When the secrets of all hearts shall be made manifest, it will appear that the finally impenitent never had one right affection, nor one good intention, in the whole course of their lives. And when this appears, the whole universe must approve of Christ, in dooming them all to endless destruction.
6. We learn from what has been said, why the divine law, when it comes to the conscience, revives the guilt and destroys the hope of every sinner. Many sinners are so strict in their external conduct, and so serious and devout in their religious services, that they not only pacify their consciences, but even entertain high hopes of the favor of God and the enjoyment of heaven. But this is owing to their ignorance of the nature and extent of the divine law, and of the total corruption of their hearts. Whenever, therefore, the divine law is set home upon their consciences, it discovers the enmity of their hearts, and destroys all their hopes of heaven. This Paul found to be the case by his own experience. “I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was or. dained to life, I found to be unto death: For sin taking occasion by the commandment deceived me, and by it slew me.” Paul, before his conversion, was a man .
a of a fair moral character, and zealous in the religion of his sect. His hopes of heaven were high, and he had no doubt of being a sincere friend to God. But when the commandment came, it discovered his heart and destroyed his hopes of the divine favor. He felt himself to be a poor, miserable, guilty sinner. He found that in him, that is in his carnal mind, there dwelt no good thing He was fully convinced, that he had always acted from a carnal, selfish heart, which was unfriendly to God, and which justly deserved his ever, lasting displeasure. And if it be true, that sinners al,
ways act from a carnal heart, which the law of God forbids; then the law of God, when it comes home to the conscience, must necessarily condemn them for all their thoughts, words and actions. And when they feel this conviction, there is nothing, which can keep them from complete despair, but a belief, that a holy, gracious and sovereign God can subdue their enmity and save them, in spite of their hearts.
7. We learn from what has been said, that it is the immediate duty of sinners to become reconciled to God. This is their first and most important duty. Their reading and praying, their seeking and striving, and every thing they do, will be displeasing to God, until they become heartily reconciled to his holy and amiable character. God is not only supremely glori. ous and excellent in his own nature; but he has al. ways treated sinners with the greatest kindness and tenderness. He has never said any thing in his word, nor done any thing in his providence, which has ever given them any just ground for their disaffection. And, therefore, he solemnly calls upon them to impeach a single instance of his conduct, if they can. “Hear ye now what the Lord saith: Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. Hear ye, O mountains, the Lord's controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the Lord hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel. O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me." Since sinners have always hated God without a cause, it is their immediate duty to renounce their groundless enmity, and become reconciled to their kind and gracious Creator. Hence the sacred teachers unitedly exhort them to immediate holiness and reconciliation of heart to God. Isaiah