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trines. Evidently, then, they who say that the knowledge of these doctrines is unimportant, understand “neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." They either forget, or misapprehend the principal design of the Christian minis


tell us.

“Some good people have contracted a strange prejudice against the doctrines of the gospel, accounting them dry and uninteresting matters. They like experimental religion the best, they

But I do not understand the distinction of religion into doctrinal and experimental after this sort. I would ask such a person what is experimental religion? Is it any other than the influence of truth upon the mind, by the agency of the Holy Spirit? You love to feel godly sorrow for sin; so do I: but what is godly sorrow for sin, but the influence of truth upon your heart? Is it not the consideration of the great evil of sin, its contrariety to what ought to be, its being committed against light, love, &c. that dissolves your heart in grief? Were you not to realize these truths it would be impossible for you to

* There is an order of men which Christ has appointed on purpose to be teachers in his church. But they teach in vain if no knowledge in these things is gained by their teaching. It is impossible that their teaching and preaching should be a means of grace, or of any good in the hearts of their hearers, any otherwise than by knowledge imparted to the understanding.

Pres. Edwards on the Importance of Christian Knowledge.

weep over your sin. But

you love to feel joy and peace in believing ; so do I : but must you not have an object to believe in ? Take away the great doctrine of the atonement, and all your faith, joy, and peace are annihilated. Much the same might be said of other gospel doctrines; instead of being opposed to experimental religion, they are essential to its existence.

That some doctrinal sermons have been dry and uninteresting is granted; but that must have been the fault of either the preacher, or the hearer. If scripture doctrines were delivered in their native simplicity, and heard with a heart suitable to their importance, they could not be dry: they must be like the doctrine of Moses, which dropped as the rain upon the grass, and as the dew upon the tender herb.

There is another prejudice against the doctrines of the gospel in the minds of many people. They imagine them to be unfriendly to practical religion. That practical religion may be neglected through an excessive attachment to favourite opinions is allowed: but if we imbibe and inculcate the truths of the gospel according to the lovely proportion in which they stand in the Bible and adhere to them, not because we have once imbibed them, but because God hath revealed them ; such a reception of the truth, and adherence to it, instead of enervating practical godliness will be

found to be the life of it. Doctrinal, experimental, and practical religion, are all necessarily connected together: they can have no existence separate from each other. The influence of truth

upon the mind is the source of all our spiritual feelings, and those feelings are the springs of every good word and action."*

* Fuller on spiritual declension and the mcans of revival. Vol. 8, p. 15.

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The natural character of man, in every age and under all circumstances, is essentially the

It may exhibit various degrees and shades of depravity, but never presents any diversity in its substantial properties. The distinction of good and bad, therefore, which prevails among men, in reference to morals, is founded upon external appearances, and the unequal exercise of the natural affections. In the Scriptures no essential difference of moral character is allowed, except that which is created by “the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” God declares that those only who have been born of the Spirit are righteous. All who remain in their natural state He has denominated the wicked.

The moral character of this latter class is now to be ascertained. It is admitted that they are depraved, but in what sense and degree? In order to the solution of this inquiry, it has generally been deemed necessary to consider three things : the origin, nature, and extent of depravity. The first of these topics is inseparably connected with the apostacy of our first parents, and has been the occasion of much unprofitable speculation. Neither the convert, nor the sinner inquiring what he must do to be saved, is in a state of mind to be benefitted by a prolonged discussion of this branch of our subject. And it is worthy of remark that the Scriptures, from the Pentateuch to the epistles of Paul, unless (Gen. 5. 3.) may be claimed as an exception, say nothing directly concerning the peculiar relation existing between the first sin of Adam, and the depravity of his posterity. We may safely conclude, therefore, that it is not of great practical importance for us to understand how, or why, by one man's disobedience many were made (constituted) sinners,” otherwise the inspired teachers would have been more explicit.* They direct our attention chiefly

* This subject in every age, and by common consent, has been acknowledged to be mysterious. The perplexity however which it occasions, arises not from the facts revealed, but from attempting to give a philosophical explanation of these facts. The various and discordant theories which have been framed, exhausting to little purpose the acutest minds, ought to convince us that the peculiar relation existing between the transgression of Adam and the depravity of his posterity, in its origin and bearings, is one of the secret things of God which we cannot comprehend, The fact that an important natural and moral relation did exist producing wonderful results, is obvious; but the solution of the mystery is beyond the reach of either metaphysical, or theological acumen.

The sum of our knowledge is this : It pleased God of his own wise, and unrevealed purpose, to ordain such a connexion between the first man and his descendants that they have inherited his depraved image, (Gen. 1. 21—24: 5. 3.) and become subject to the natural consequences of his transgression. In this general

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