Billeder på siden

your example, and argue as if you had said "a dishonest heart," or interpret the term to mean, as it is often used, conviviality and frankness of disposition. True sincerity, however, you not only admit, but prove, throughout the whole tenor of your book, to be just what you have made us call it—all in all; and you contend, and we deny not, that to true sincerity true knowledge is promised, and will be given.

Your humble servant,

To Mr. WILberforce.



CHAP. II. 8vo. Edit. p. 19.

Inadequate conceptions of the Corruption of Human NatureEvil Spirit-Natural state of Man-Objections answered.


IN chapter the second you attack us for having "inadequate conceptions of human nature;" and you assert, that we "either overlook, or deny, or at least, greatly extenuate, our corruption and weakness:" (p. 20). This is, truly, rather a vague charge, containing three counts in one, with the heaviest and falsest in the middle, as if for the purpose of being covered by the lesser two. You instantly proceed, however, to put into our mouths a full acknowledgment of our corruption: (p. 20). I must, therefore, suppose the first part of the charge withdrawn. But then you say, we "do not trace this corruption to its true origin" (p. 20); and immediately proceed with your charge of extenuation, making us give this extenuation as the

origin of the evil, in the terms" frailty-infirmity— petty transgressions-occasional surprisals," &c. Do you mean then to say, that we call " ever being prone to sensuality and selfishness in disobedience to the more refined and liberal principles of our nature" (p. 20), an occasional failing, a sudden surprisal? or call oppression, rapacity, cruelty, fraud, envy, and malice, "petty transgressions!" And if, in answer to the question, "What is the cause of such general depravity?" we should say, "The frailty and infirmity of human nature," will you deny it? are we not frail and infirm? or will you contend, that because we say "frailty and infirmity," we must, therefore, be understood to deny any particular origin of this frailty and infirmity? As well might I contend that you denied the history of gunpowder, because you said a man's death was caused by a bullet! Let us say all you here make us say; it neither proves that we think "that vice is rather accidental and temporary than constitutional and habitual" (p. 21), nor does it make us deny any part of your " Scripture account." You really must excuse my saying, that your insinuation, throughout this section, that we do so, is neither true nor fair. Your objections against us here, as in many other parts of your book, are almost entirely referable to our different mode of expressing ourselves, and our habit, before

noticed, of not willingly talking of religion, especially in the set terms you seem to require. What your own opinion actually is, it is most difficult to determine, as you never come to the point; but it appears to me, judging from the style of your quotations, that if there is any difference in our opinions upon this subject, it is, that you imagine, that at the instant of the first disobedience, human nature arrived at once at its maturity of corruption -repente turpissima-while we contend for the original maxim, nemo repente,--that human nature was not immediately at its worst. I could talk for an hour about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, &c. &c. but it were useless; I really do not think the matter of sufficient consequence, as it in no wise alters our after state, be it which way it may. Allow me one remark, however. God said to Adam, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake:" but the ground still brought forth good fruit, as well as weeds and poison, only to render the good crop a reasonable expectation, it required-what? cultivation! The evil principle once introduced, certainly made vigorous strides, but not throughout the history even of natural man, totally unopposed. While we admit your account of his depravity, we must not forget that there is a contrary side of the question, or hastily decide that God was altogether driven from his creation, be


cause it is easier to collect vices than virtues from the history of mankind. It is the very nature of evil to be prominent, and of good to lie concealed! Evil, however, had so far succeeded in the struggle, as to render necessary a general revelation, which has, as you allow," set the tone of morals much higher than it was ever found in the Pagan world,” and "amended the standard of public opinion." That we are still imperfect, beyond what might be conceived possible, we freely admit; nor do I at all quarrel with your preachment and selfexamination. Evil is not conquered for us; we have still a severe struggle to maintain: but the grasp it had upon our throats is relaxed, and we are set afresh upon our legs, with a powerful friend to back us; but we ourselves must still face our enemy, and endeavour to prove ourselves not unworthy of the promised aid, upon which, past experience and express revelation tell us, depends our victory. Such is the description you here give of our state; do not, therefore, forget it hereafter!

You finish this section by two pages of a sort of triumphant lecture, as if you really had been engaged in a contest, and won a clear and decided victory; whereas, you have been fighting but a shadow of your own creation, we never having denied, nor you even made us deny, the corruption of human nature. As for inadequate conception,


« ForrigeFortsæt »