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sinner becomes a saint. Hence it appears from fact, as well as from scripture, that it is impossible to point out any essential moral difference between a sinner and a saint, without making total depravity the peculiar and essential character of a sinner. If there be any such persons in the world, therefore, as justly deserve to be called sinners, in distinction from saints, they are totally depraved, and wholly under the dominion of a carnal mind, which is enmity against God. The way is now prepared to show,
II. That the total depravity of sinners totally defiles and depraves all their actions.
Their total depravity is of a moral nature, and entirely distinct from their intellectual powers. They can perceive as well, they can remember as well, they can reason as well, and they can distinguish between moral good and evil as well, as the best of saints. The total depravity of their natural faculties would entirely destroy their moral depravity. For were their reason and conscience totally depraved, they would be altogether incapable of doing right or wrong, or performing any moral action which should be either pleasing or displeasing to God. Their moral depravity, therefore, must consist in their hearts. And this is agreeable to the whole tenor of scripture. The apostle tells us, “ The carnal mind is enmity against God." As enmity belongs to the heart, and not to the understanding, so the heart must be the seat of moral corruption. Solomon says,
“ Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." By foolishness here he means moral depravity; and this he places in the heart. God promises to renew the hearts of sinners, in order to remove their moral depravity. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” If the removal of an evil heart will take away total depravity, then total depravity certainly consists in an evil heart. When God would portray the depravity of sinners in the strongest colors, he says, “ When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." So when Christ would express the depravity and guilt of the Jews in the highest degree, he says, “ They have both seen and hated both me and my Father.” Paul also represents the very essence of sin, or moral depravity, as consisting in the opposition of the heart to the light of conscience. “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” And this every sinner knows to be true by his own experience. He finds that his heart is not only distinct from his conscience, but
is in direct opposition to it. His conscience tells him to do what his heart hates and opposes; and on the other hand, his heart inclines him to do what his conscience forbids and condemns. It appears from scripture and experience, therefore, that the heart is the only seat of moral depravity. There is no other place in the mind where it can be found, nor where it can possibly exist.
Now if sinners are totally depraved, and their total depravity lies in the heart, then the apostle's reasoning is plain and conclusive. “ So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." A corrupt heart necessarily corrupts all the actions which proceed from it. And since sinners always act from a corrupt heart, all their actions must be corrupt. The only way to prove any action to be criminal, is to prove that it was done from a wicked heart. Why is murder a crime? No other reason can be given but that it necessarily flows from malice prepense. Why are all the actions of the devil criminal ? No other reason can be given but that he always acts from a malevolent heart. If sinners, therefore, have a totally deprared heart, which is enmity against God, and if they always act from this malevolent heart, then it necessarily follows that all their actions are sinful, and displeasing to him who knows from what source they proceed. There is no way to evade the force of this reasoning, but only to deny that all the actions of sinners flow from the heart. And since some have presumed to deny this plain and important truth, I will endeavor to demonstrate it. Here I would observe,
1. The scripture represents all human actions as flowing from the heart. We are told that Abraham was required to sacrifice his son, and that he obeyed the divine command. But we know that his obedience wholly consisted in the intention of his heart. David is represented as doing well, while it was only in his heart to build the house of the Lord. This Solomon expressly declares. “And the Lord said unto David my father, Whereas it was in thine heart to build an house unto my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart." And Judas acted from the heart in betraying Christ. For Satan put it into his heart to betray him. That is, Satan suggested the temptation, and Judas in his heart complied with it. These, and numerous other instances which might be collected from scripture, clearly show that all human actions originate in and flow from the heart.
Our Saviour taught this doctrine in the plainest and strongest terms. “O generation of vipers; how can ye, being evil, speak good things ? for out of the abundance of ihe heart the mouth speakeih. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart
bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Christ insisted much upon this point in opposition to the Pharisees, who were fond of separating actions from the heart. He addressed them in this pointed language: “ Ye hypocrites! well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” He then spake a parable to illustrate this declaration. “ Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." This parable having offended the Pharisees, Peter desired Christ to explain it. Accordingly he replied and said, “ Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man.” Our Lord here plainly asserts that all human actions proceed from the heart; and he conveys the same sentiment in his exposition of the divine law. “ When the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence - one of them which was a lawyer asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law ? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” It is easy to see the truth and propriety of this exposition, if all the actions of men flow from the heart. For if this be true, then the commands to read and pray, to labor six days in the week and sanctify the seventh, and to perform all other virtuous and holy actions, are necessarily comprised in the law of love. By requiring a good heart, God virtually requires all good actions, and virtually forbids all bad actions. So the apostle reasons upon the subject. “He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this," that is, for this reason, " Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bear false witness; Thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his
neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” This text plainly teaches that the law requires love, because love will produce all good actions, and prevent all bad ones; or in other words, that the law requires a good heart, because all good actions will flow from it; and forbids a bad heart, because all bad actions will flow from it. Thus it appears from scripture precepts and prohibitions, as well as from scripture representations and declarations, that all human actions flow from the heart. And to make it appear that we have given the true sense of scripture upon this point, and still farther to establish it, I may observe,
2. That moral agency wholly consists in the heart, and therefore every moral action must necessarily flow from this, and no other source.
The heart consists in voluntary exercises; and voluntary exercises are moral agency. Willing is acting. Willing right is acting right; and willing wrong is acting wrong. All voluntary exercises belong to the heart; and therefore loving and hating is as really acting, as choosing and refusing. It is true, we sometimes make a distinction among the exercises of the heart; and call some affections, and others volitions. But the only ground of this distinction is, that loving and hating, which we call affections, are immanent exercises of the heart which produce no external effects; whereas choosing and refusing, which we call volitions, are imperative acts of the will, and productive of external actions. Moral agency, however, equally belongs to the heart and the will, or to both affections and volitions. For we act when we love, whether we express our love or not. And we act when we hate, whether we express our hatred or not. There is as much moral agency in the affections of the heart, as in the volitions of the will. The heart and will are essentially the same; or, the will is only the heart producing external effects. So that strictly speaking, all moral agency belongs to the heart, as distinguished from all the other powers and faculties of the mind. The truth of this we all know by our own experience. No man feels that any motion of body or mind is his action, unless his heart is concerned in it. If his eye or head, or hand, or foot, should move without the concurrence of his heart, he would not call that motion his action, nor feel in the least degree accountable for it. Or if his intellectual powers were put in motion without the choice of his heart, he would not call those mental motions his actions, nor feel either praise or blame worthy for them. No exercises of body or mind have any moral quality without the heart. There is no
. moral good nor moral evil in thoughts, only as the heart approves or disapproves them. There is no moral good nor moral evil in words, only as the heart approves or disapproves them. There is no moral good nor moral evil in reading, walking or laboring, only as the heart approves or disapproves these outward exertions. The reason is, all thoughts, words and outward exertions are not actions, but mere motions, without the heart. All moral agency consists in the heart. With the heart man loves, with the heart man hates, with the heart man chooses and refuses, with the heart man believes and disbelieves, and with the heart he does all that may be called his action. For without the heart, he is a mere passive machine, which
may be acted upon, but which cannot act. And on this ground it is, that the law of God knows the heart only, requires the heart only, and forbids only the heart. “My son," saith God, "give me thine heart." And the apostle says, “ If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted, according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” God requires and accepts a good heart, but forbids and rejects a bad one. The heart comprises all that he requires or forbids; because to require or forbid any exercise or action without the heart, would be the same as to require or forbid an act without an agent, which is palpably absurd. Now if sinners always act from the heart, and if the heart from which they act be totally depraved, then all their actions must be totally depraved. If there be no flaw in any link of this chain of reasoning, and if one link be inseparably connected with another, then it must bind every person to believe that “they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
IMPROVEMENT. 1. We learn from what has been said, wherein their mistake lies, who acknowledge the total depravity of sinners and yet deny their total sinfulness. Those who run into this inconsistency, have often been refuted without being convinced. But it is much to be desired that they should be convinced as well as refuted; and if the fallacy of their reasoning be fairly and clearly pointed out, perhaps they will be convinced. If the hearts of sinners be totally depraved, and all their actions proceed from their hearts, then all their actions must be totally depraved. This is too plain to be denied. Those, therefore, who deny that total sinfulness is the consequence of total depravity, deny that all the actions of sinners proceed from their hearts. And were this true, they might acknowledge total depravity, and yet deny total sinfulness, without the least inconsistency. Accordingly we find they make a distinction between actions which flow from the heart, and those which flow from reason, conscience, or natural affections. They acknowledge that the heart