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And if it is the duty of Christians thus to cast themselves on the strength of God, it is the duty of sinners; and to this they ought to be exhorted. No believer in divine efficiency will hesitate to utter this injunction. And if you suppress it, you send them forth crippled with self. dependence, and with a religion very different from the true. And then you may talk about preaching up dependence occasionally but not too often ; you may talk about differing from your brethren only on “the philosophy of religion;” (all this may serve a purpose ;) but in fact you and they stand at the two poles on one of the two or three most important points that can be disowned without infidelity itself.
We admit that men have a capacity or power to love God without the application of divine efficiency; otherwise none could be punished. But they never will ; and it is not owing to their depravity; for the same is true of the holy angels. Now if you ask me, what is that power which is never exerted without divine efficiency 7 I can only say, that, in the account of the divine mind, it is the proper basis of obligation, and therefore, by the decision of common sense, must be called a power. Your difficulty is to see that a creature may be reasonably bound while dependent for his affections. We think that God has pronounced the compatibility of the two by pronouncing the truth of both. And while we thus believe, we cannot admit your competency to decide against the power on account of the dependence.
As I am reasoning with brethren who believe in the erercise system, I do not intend to embarrass my argument by connecting it with the taste scheme. And to remove prejudices on account of any leaning I may be supposed to have to that plan, as well as to explain my meaning when I refer, as I shall have occasion to do, to the necessity of a new temper or new affections, (without determining which,) before the sinner will be persuaded by divine truth; I will, in the outset, state what I mean by a moral nature or temper; what I mean also by the corrupt nature common to the race, and in what sense it has been derived from Adam. What I shall say on these subjects, and on the origin of sin, will not, I think, be denied by any who believe that God efficiently produces holiness but not sin.
Self-love consists in the desire of happiness and aversion to misery, or in loving to gratify our personal tastes and feelings. This is essential to a rational and even to a sensitive nature. This had Adam before the fall; but divine efficiency wrought in him supreme love to God, which kept self-love in due subjection. As soon as God withdrew his sanctifying influence, (and that he did sovereignly and not as a punishment,) Adam's self-love became supreme, (there can be no rivals for supreme affection but God and self.) and of course turned to selfishness, and, as soon as God
was presented in his law, to “enmity against God.” For all this no positive act was necessary on the part of God but to uphold Adam's rational existence. If Adam does not love his Maker supremely, he must with supreme desire seek the means of his own personal gratification, or cease to have a rational soul. Now that proneness to gratify himself, growing out of the absence of love to God and the presence of self-love turned to selfishness; or perhaps I may more properly say, that combination of inward circumstances out of which will infallibly arise the exercises of selfishness and enmity against God, constitutes the corrupt nature or temper of which I speak. While his rational existence is continued, and while he does not love God, it must be his nature to be selfish, and to hate God when God sets himself against him in his law, as much as it is the nature of the serpent to bite and of the lion to be carnivorous. The difference between the two cases is this. The nature of the serpent and lion depends on their physical formation; the nature of Adam, on the absence of love to God which he ought to exercise. He is to blame for that state of things, for that nature or aptitude,-and therefore it is a moral nature.* If one must love his own happiness in case he is even sentient, then a man who does not love God, must, anterior in the order of nature to his selfishness, have an infallible aptitude to selfishness. If
* I know that the word nature, etymologically considered, belongs exclusively to physics; but for want of another term, and prompted by a strong analogy, men have applied it to our moral constitution. And while it means this, to say that a change of
mature must be a physical change, is only a play upon words which involves a serious errour.
the soul must have desires after something or cease to be,