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retained his regard for principle, after he had lost his self respect. Destroy this, and you destroy every thing; for a man who does not respect himself, respects nothing
Degrading representations of human nature are often made, without doubt, for the laudable purpose of inculcating humility. But we doubt their tendency to do this; nay, we believe their tendency to be the very reverse of this. It should be observed, that in speaking of human nature, we do not mean the human character as it actually exists, but the nature on which that character is formed. We speak of our original capacities and moral constitution. Now we do not perceive how degrading representations of these can possibly humble a man. Suppose a man is made to think meanly of his nature, this is quite a different thing from thinking humbly of himself. Humility in man, results, in general, we believe, from some comparison unfavourable to himself as an individual, or at least as a member of some particular society, sect, or country. No matter how bad we may all be, still this is no occasion for humility, if we are all equally bad, and there is no ground for mortifying comparisons. It is no occasion for humility, that we were born men, and not angels. It is no occasion for humility, that we belong to the human species, though it may be, and indeed it is, of regret, if human nature be as it is sometimes represented. Besides, a man is not humbled so much by considering his actual degradation, as by considering the part which he himself has had in bringing it about; not so much by simply considering how bad he is, as by considering it in comparison with what he might have been. The more, therefore, that
he might have been, the greater must be his humility for what he is. Two men may be equally ignorant, and yet that man will certainly be the most humbled by his ignorance, who is conscious of having had the best natural abilities, and the best opportunities for education. For the same reason, it is equally certain, that, let the depravity of man be what it may, it must humble him the more, the higher and more honourable his conceptions are of his original capacities and moral constitution; or, in other words, the higher and more honourable his conceptions are of his nature and moral condition.
Grant, however, that the doctrine of man's universal and total depravity may humble some; whom will it humble? Not, surely, the vicious and unprincipled; for it certainly cannot humble them to be told, that bad as they may be, still their religious condition and prospects are quite as good as those of the moral and upright. It may, indeed, humble the wise and the good to find, that they have thrown away their desires, and their exertions, and their prayers, upon a nature in itself incapable of exaltation. But, we think, it can hardly be pleaded as a recommendation for any doctrine, that it humbles the good only, and them, too, in proportion as they are good. In fine, we think this subject may be reduced within a very narrow compass. That all men are more or less depraved, is not disputed. Even the degree of actual depravity in the world need not be called in question. The inquiry relates wholly to the origin of this depravity. Which will humble us most—to believe that it originated in our nature, or in a voluntary abuse of our nature; to believe it to be our Maker's work, or our own? This is the
true and only question at issue, and there certainly can be but one answer to it.
It may be said, perhaps, that strong and vivid descriptions of man's natural and total depravity are necessary to rouse men to a sense of their danger. Let it not be inferred from the tenor of our remarks, that we do not believe mankind to be in any danger, or that they do not need frequent and solemn admonition. We know the treachery of the human heart; the deplorable effects of the human passions when unrestrained or misapplied; the thousands and millions who live and die in a wretched state of moral and intellectual debasement. We know all this, and so far are we from wishing to conceal it, or gloss it over, that we would have it ever present to the minds of men. And, indeed, one of our principal objections, against a habit of decrying human nature is this, that it turns off men's attention from the actual guilt which there is in the world, to consider a sort of mystical and theoretical guilt, the contemplation of which will neither humble them, nor alarm them, nor serve in any way to make them better. We allow, that the great object of every preacher of righteousness should be to rouse men to moral exertion; and this, no doubt, may be often effected by strong and vivid representations of their danger; but never by strong and vivid representations of their helplessness. We should remember, that if men are often made careless and indifferent by having too much confidence in their natural powers, so the same consequence will follow from their having none. First lead a man to believe that he can do nothing whatever to help himself, and after this of what avail can be your alarming representations? He must not only be made
to feel his danger, but also his ability to extricate himself, or you might as well sound your alarms over the sea--you might as well go down into the tombs, and ring them in the ears of the dead.
Still some may contend, that however degrading may be our representations of human nature, there is no reason to fear they will be understood too literally in their application. We are aware, that in applying bad doctrine to practice, there is often something which at once detects its error and absurdity, and so operates to prevent its injurious effects. There are many speculative errors which are indebted for their harmlessness to their very absurdity, and their utter inconsistency with the principles of common sense, and common life. So it may be, in a degree, with those representations of human nature which we have been condemning; still we think that their general effect, or at least their general tendercy, must be as we have stated it above.
As an illustration and proof of this, we need only to refer to a fact in the moral history of the world, which ought never to be forgotten; namely, that the atheistic and demoralizing writers of France in the last century, when they undertook the subversion of all religion and virtue, began "by depreciating human nature, by considering it under its worst appearances, by giving mean interpretations to the worthiest actions; in short, by endeavouring to destroy all distinction between man and man, and between the species of man and that of the brutes." In this way they began the subversion of all established principles in morals and religion; and considering the end they had in view, it was a perfectly natural beginning. This step taken, and all the rest followed naturally on; for they had but to convince the
people that their natures were brutal, and their characters soon became as brutal, as they believed their natures to be.
However, that an atheist, who denies the existence of a moral government over the world, and the immortality of the soul, and the reality of all those affections, and relations, and hopes, that distinguish and dignify man—that an atheist should decry and revile human nature, is perfectly natural and consistent, is just what we might expect. But we should hope that Christians would not borrow their representations of human nature from the atheists, and, especially, that they would not borrow those very representations, which the atheists have heretofore so successfully employed to undermine the foundations of public morals, and effect the overthrow of all religion.
The Christian's Life a Pilgrimage. The Christian's life is beautifully compared, in the Word of God, to a pilgrimage. It shall be the design of this article to notice several points of resemblance.
And in the first place, the Christian, like the pil-. grim, has not yet any permanent home, or abiding place. The changes to which the good man is subject, in common with others, from the natural course of human life, are numerous; many of them unexpected, and some deeply appalling. If he forms his expectations from the experience of those who have gone before him, he cannot reasonably hope that he shall long remain in the same circumstances. If he is comfortably settled in the bosom of his family, with every thing to warrant