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"Pfal. xxxvi. 1. The Tranfgreffion of the Wicked "faith within my Heart, that there is NO FEAR of "GOD before their Eyes.
cc 4 He deviseth Mischief upon his Bed; he fetteth "himself in a Way that is not good; he abhorreth "not Evil.
TO these very Pfalms St. Paul refers in his Epiftle to the Romans, and other Epiftles.
"Rom. iii. 19. What Things foever the Law faith, "it faith to them that are under the Law, that every "Mouth may be stopped, and all the World may be66 come GUILTY before God.
"Galat. iii. 22. The Scripture hath concluded all "under Sin; that the PROMISE by Faith of Jesus Chrift, might be given to them that believe.
John i. 8. If we fay we have no Sin, we de"ceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us.
THE Doctrine of ORIGINAL SIN, is fo effential an Article of the Christian Religion, that without a fixed Belief of it, it is not poffible to have any right Ideas of the divine WISDOM, JUSTICE, and MERCY, that is display'd in the Oeconomy of Man's Salvation, by the Paffion and Death of our Redeemer.
ALTHO' this Article, which is fo clearly revealed in the Holy Scripture, has been abfolutely denied but by very few; yet many Attempts have been in the preceding Ages of the Church, as in the prefent, either to explain this effential Article away, or to fap it of that due Force it ought to have upon the Minds of Men; which even the wifeft of the Gentile Philofophers have acknowledged and bewailed.
BUT this is so harsh a Subject, and bears so close upon that Pride and Vanity which is the common Difeafe of the human Nature, that fome of the Divines of the prefent Age are fo very indulgent to themfelves and their Hearers, that they feldom touch this fefter'd Wound; and when they do, it is with a very gentle Hand.
Hand. But in vain are all the fine Harangues upon the Excellency of Moral Virtues, while Men remain infenfible of the SINFULNESS of their Nature, which keeps them from applying the only Remedy whereby it can be healed.
IT would be thought very impertinent in a Physician, to entertain his Patient, who had a Mortification in his Legs, with the Pleasures that may be found in fine Gardens, and fhady Groves, without prefcribing how the Disease might be cured.
The IXth ARTICLE of the Church of England: Of ORIGINAL SIN.
Original Sin flandeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk) but it is the Fault and Cozzuption of the Nature of every Man, that naturally is ingendzed of the Off-fpzing of Adam, whereby an is very far gone from Duiginal Righteoufnels, and is of his own Mature inclined to Evil, so that the Fieth lufteth always contrary to the Spirit: And therefore in every Perfon bon into this Would, it deserveth God's Wrath and Damnation. And this Infection of Mature doth remain; yea, in them that are Regenerated, whereby the Luft of the Fleth, called in Greek, cernua capno's, which lome do expound the Wildom, Come Senfuality, fome the affection, come the Defire of the Flech, is not fubject to the Law of God. And although there is no Condemnation for them that believe and are baptized; yet the apostle doth confefs, that Concupifcence and Luft hath of itself the Mature of Sin.
Secondly, THE Article of IMPUTED RIGHTEOUS
IN the Sacred Book of Pfalms is alfo clearly revealed the Article of IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS, which has an immediate dependance upon the Belief of Original Sin. For till the Mind is truly affected with the Consciousness of its Guilt, it can never be induced to follow after, and confide in a Righteousness fuperior
to its own.
THERE is a Confcience of Good and Evil lodged in the Breaft of every Man; whofe Accufations are fo afflicting, that Mankind have in all Ages endeavoured either to calm, or ftupify this Accufer.
IN the Gentile World, by numberlefs Sacrifices and Superftitions: They often facrificing their Firft-born, to pacify the Rage of their guilty Minds; for which flagrant Crime, the Jews were often threatned with the Divine Vengeance.
THE Prophet Micah very elegantly describes the infolent Pride of this Superftition:
"Micab vi. 6. Wherewith fhall I come before the Lord, and bow my felf before the High God? Shall "I come before him with Offerings, with Calves of "a Year old?
"7. Will the Lord be pleafed with Thousands of "Rams, or with ten Thousands of Rivers of Oil? "Shall I give my Firft-born for my Tranfgreffion; "the Fruit of my Body for the Sin of my Soul?
"8. He hath fhewed thee, O Man, what is good: "And what doth the Lord require of thee? but to do JUSTLY, and to love MERCY, and to walk HUMBLY "with thy GOD.
THIS Consciousness of Guilt in the Church of Rome, being under the Conduct of the Clergy, foon polluted the Church with Superftitions and IDOLATRIES, as grofs as ever were found among Jews or Pagans; which led their Votaries into a Submiffion to most fe
vere PENANCES, whipping, and fometimes almoft ftarving their BODIES, to pacify the Rage of their guilty MINDS.
THIS the Ecclefiafticks managed with great Skill, and by it acquired vaft Poffeffions throughout all Christendom; putting their Votaries upon depriving their Heirs of their Estates, inftead of that barbarous Custom of murdering them: Which fo far prevailed in this Nation, that the Statute of Mortmain was enacted to put a stop to it.
THE Jews, altho' they were reclaim'd from their grofs IDOLATRIES by their Captivity to Babylon; yet upon their Resettlement in their own Country, fell into a most irreverent Way of Worfhip: for which both Priests and People are feverely reproved by Malachi, the last of all the Prophets.
AND thus the Generality of thefe People continued till the coming of our SAVIOUR, who moft feverely reproved this impious Hypocrify; telling the Pharifees, that all their pretended Devotion was hypocritical and vain, being only defigned for popular Applaufe: For it was very impious to pretend to draw near to GOD with their Mouth and Lips, when their Heart and Affections were far removed from him: For GOD being a SPIRIT, they that worship him, must worship him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH.
AS this Hypocrify univerfally prevailed in the Jewish Church, it is too evident that the CHRISTIAN Church has been infefted with the fame Impiety.
IN the Church of Rome, their Devotions are repeated by the Tale of Beads. This, tho' the PRÓTESTANTS have expofed as abfurd and ridiculous yet, have they not fallen into the fame fort of Impiety? For, how abfurdly, how hafty, and irreverently are the PSALMS and PRAYERS read by fome of the Curates? and are fo repeated by the People.
I HOPE this Digreffion will be excufed, it being too evident that this Practice has not only expofed fome of the CLERGY to great Contempt, but has allo infected many of the LAITY with a great Coldness and Indifference in their Publick and Private Devotions.
SHOULD Princes, or their Favourites, be thus addrefs'd to for Ecclefiaftical or Secular Preferments; with what Contempt would they be rejected? And can guilty Mortals think to obtain the Divine FAVOUR, GRACE, and MERCY, who implore it with fuch Coldnefs and Indifference?
WHILE Men are imploying all the Rational Faculties in the Acquifition of RICHES and PREFERMENTS, or gratifying their SENSUAL APPETITES, these fo engross the Mind, that the Service, Love, and Fear of GOD, becomes a thing either totally neglected; or else the Means to obtain it are used in fo fupine a manner, as if the PARDON of the ALMIGHTY and the MERCY of the REDEEMER, were to be obtained by a bare Repetition of the Prayers of the Church.
BUT when Men are awaken'd out of this fatal Slumber, and the SOUL reflects upon its own IMMORTALITY, fees clearly that the Almighty has appointed a Day, in which he will JUDGE the World in RIGHTEOUSNESS, feels its own Guiltinefs, and forefees its Mifery With what Ardour does fuch an awaken'd Mind implore the Divine Pardon and Mercy? With what Shame and Contrition does it bewail its former Crimes?
THESE are the Pangs of the NEW BIRTH, whereby the Divine Life is begun in the Soul, which feels itfelf furrounded with many DIFFICULTIES, but above all, with its own finful WEAKNESS and INFIRMITIES; fo that it finds itself under an abfolute Incapacity to perform an EXACT Obedience to the DiVINE LAW, and is thereby forced to the Purfuit of a RIGHTEOUSNESS SUPERIOR to its own.