« السابقةمتابعة »
In discussing the subject of human depravity, I shall,
I. DEFINE THE TERM DEPRAVITY.
II. POINT OUT THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND MORAL DEPRAVITY.
III. SHOW OF WHAT PHYSICAL DEPRAVITY CAN BE PREDI
IV. OF WHAT MORAL DEPRAVITY CAN BE PREDICATED. V. THAT MANKIND ARE BOTH PHYSICALLY AND MORALLY DEPRAVED.
VI. THAT SUBSEQUENT TO THE COMMENCEMENT OF MORAL AGENCY, AND PREVIOUS TO REGENERATION, THE MORAL DEPRAVITY OF MANKIND IS UNIVERSAL.
VII. THAT DURING THE ABOVE PERIOD THE MORAL DEPRAVITY OF MANKIND IS TOTAL.
VIII. THE PROPER METHOD OF ACCOUNTING FOR THE UNIVERSAL TOTAL MORAL DEPRAVITY OF THE UNREGENERATE MORAL AGENTS OF OUR RACE.
I. Definition of the term Depravity.
The word is derived from the Latin de and pravus. Pravus means crooked. De is intensive. Depravo literally and primarily means crooked, not in the sense of original or constitutional crookedness, but in the sense of having become crooked. The term does not imply original mal-conformation, but lapsed, fallen, departed from right or straight. It always implies deterioration, or fall from a former state of moral or physical perfection.
Depravity always implies a departure from a state of original integrity, or from conformity to the laws of the being who is the subject of depravity. Thus we should not call that being depraved who abode in a state of conformity to the original laws of his being, physical and moral. But we justly call a being depraved, who has departed from conformity to those laws, whether those laws be physical or moral.
II. Point out the distinction between physical and moral depravity.
Physical depravity, as the word denotes, is the depravity of constitution, or substance, as distinguished from depravity of free moral action. It may be predicated of body or of mind. Physical depravity, when predicated of the body, is
commonly and rightly termed disease. It consists in a physical departure from the laws of life and health, a lapsed, or fallen state of the constitution or physical organization, a state in which the bodily organization is imperfect and impaired, and in which healthy organic action is not sustained.
When physical depravity is predicated of mind, it is intended that the powers of the mind, either in substance, or in consequence of their connection with and dependence upon the body, are in a diseased, lapsed, fallen, degenerate state, so that the healthy action of those powers is not sustained.
Physical depravity, being depravity of substance as opposed to depravity of the actions of free will, can have no moral character. It may, as we shall see, be caused by moral depravity; and a moral agent may be blameworthy for having rendered himself physically depraved, either in body or mind. But physical depravity, whether of body or of mind, can have no moral character in itself, for the plain reason that it is involuntary, and in its nature disease, and not sin.
Moral depravity is the depravity of free will, not of the faculty itself, but of its free action. It consists in a violation of moral law. Depravity of the will, as a faculty, is, or would be physical, and not moral depravity. It would be depravity of substance, and not of free, responsible choice. Moral depravity is depravity of choice. It is a choice at variance with moral law, moral right. It is synonymous with sin or sinfulness. It is moral depravity, because it consists in a violation of moral law, and because it has moral character.
III. Of what physical depravity can be predicated.
1. It can be predicated of any organized substance. That is, every organized substance is liable to become depraved. Depravity is a possible state of every organized body or sub
stance in existence.
2. Physical depravity may be predicated of mind, as has already been said, especially in its connection with an organized body. As mind in connection with body, manifests itself through it, acts by means of it, and is dependent upon it, it is plain, that if the body become diseased, or physically depraved, the mind can not but be affected by this state of the body, through and by means of which it acts. The normal manifestations of mind can not, in such case, be reasonably expected. Physical depravity may be predicated of all the powers and involuntary states of mind, of the intelligence, of the sensibility, and of the faculty of will. That is, the actings and states of the intelligence, may become disordered, de
praved, deranged, or fallen from the state of integrity and healthiness. This, every one knows, as it is matter of daily experience and observation. Whether this in all cases is, and must be caused by the state of the bodily organization, that is, whether it is always and necessarily to be ascribed to the depraved state of the brain and nervous system, it is impossible for us to know. It may, for aught we know, in some instances at least, be a depravity or derangement of the substance of the mind itself.
The sensibility, or feeling department of the mind, may be sadly and physically depraved. This is a matter of common experience. The appetites and passions, the desires and cravings, the antipathies and repellencies of the feelings fall into great disorder and anarchy. Numerous artificial appetites are generated, and the whole sensibility becomes a wilderness, a chaos of conflicting and clamorous desires, emotions, and passions. That this state of the sensibility is often, and perhaps always, owing in some measure at least, to the state of the nervous system with which it is connected, through and by which it manifests itself, there can be but little room to doubt. But whether this is always and necessarily so, no one can tell. We know that the sensibility manifests great physical depravity. Whether this depravity belong exclusively to the body, or to the mind, or to both in connection, I will not venture to affirm. In the present state of our knowledge, or of my knowledge, I dare not hazard an affirmation upon the. subject. The human body is certainly in a state of physical depravity. The human mind also certainly manifests physical depravity.
IV. Of what moral depravity can be predicated.
1. Not of substance; for over involuntary substance the. moral law does not legislate.
2. Moral depravity can not be predicated of any involuntary acts or states of mind. These surely can not be violations of moral law, for moral law legislates only over free, intelligent choices.
3. Moral depravity can not be predicated of any unintelligent act of will, that is, of acts of will that are put forth in a state of idiocy, of intellectual derangement, or of sleep. Moral depravity implies moral obligation; moral obligation implies moral agency; and moral agency implies intelligence, or knowledge of moral relations. Moral agency implies moral law, or the development of the idea of duty, and a knowledge of what duty is.
4. Moral depravity can only be predicated of violations of moral law. Moral law, as we have seen, requires love, and only love to God and man, or to God and the universe. This love, as we have seen, is good will, choice, the choice of an end, the choice of the highest well being of God and of the universe of sentient existences.
Moral depravity is sin. Sin is a violation of moral law. We have seen that sin must consist in choice, in the choice of self-indulgence or self-gratification as an end.
5. Moral depravity can not consist in any attribute of nature or constitution, nor in any lapsed and fallen state of nature; for this is physical and not moral depravity.
6. It can not consist in any thing that is a part of mind or body. Nor in any involuntary action or state of either mind or body.
7. It can not consist in any thing back of choice, and that sustains to choice the relation of a cause. Whatever is back of choice, is without the pale of legislation. The law of God as has been said, requires good willing only, and sure it is, that nothing but acts of will can constitute a violation of moral law. Outward actions, and involuntary thoughts and feelings, may be said, in a certain sense, to possess moral character, because they are produced by the will. But strictly speaking, moral character belongs only to choice, or intention.
It was shown in a former lecture, that sin does not, and can not consist in malevolence, properly speaking, or in the choice of sin or misery as an end, or for its own sake. It was also shown, that all sin consists, and must consist in selfishness, or in the choice of self-gratification as an end.
Moral depravity, then, strictly speaking, can only be predicated of selfish ultimate intention.
V. Mankind are both physically and morally depraved.
1. There is, in all probability, no perfect health of body among all the ranks and classes of human beings that inhabit this world. The physical organization of the whole race has become impaired, and beyond all doubt has been becoming more and more so since intemperance of any kind was first introduced into our world. This is illustrated and confirmed by the comparative shortness of human life. This also is a physiological fact.
2. As the human mind, in this state of existence, is dependent upon the body for all its manifestations, and as the human body is universally in a state of greater or less physical depravity or disease, it follows that the manifestations of mind
thus dependent on a physically depraved organization, will be physically depraved manifestations. Especially is this true of the human sensibility. The appetites, passions, and propensities are in a state of most unhealthy development. This is too evident and too much a matter of universal notoriety to need proof or illustration. Every person of reflection has observed that the human mind is greatly out of balance in consequence of the monstrous development of the sensibility. The appetites, passions, and propensities have been indulged, and the intelligence and conscience stultified by selfishness. Selfishness, be it remembered, consists in a disposition or choice to gratify the propensities, desires and feelings. This, of course and of necessity, produces just the unhealthy and monstrous developments which we daily see: sometimes one ruling passion or appetite lording it not only over the intelligence and over the will, but also over all the other appetites and passions, crushing and sacrificing them all upon the altar of its own gratification. See that bloated wretch-an inebriate! His appetite for strong drink has played the despot. The whole mind and body, reputation, family, friends, health, time, eternity, all, all have been laid upon its filthy altar. There are the debauchee, and the glutton, and the gambler, and the miser, and a host of others each in his turn giving striking and melancholy proof of the monstrous development and physical depravity of the human sensibility.
3. That men are morally depraved is one of the most notorious facts of human experience, observation, and history.
Indeed I am not aware that it has ever been doubted when moral depravity has been understood to consist in selfishness.
The moral depravity of the race of man is every where assumed and declared in the Bible, and so universal and notorious is the fact of human selfishness that should any man practically call it in question-should he in his business transactions and in his intercouse with men assume the contrary, he would justly subject himself to the charge of insanity. Indeed there is not a fact in the world more notorious and undeniable than this. Human moral depravity is as palpably evident as human existence. It is a fact every where assumed in all governments, in all the arrangements of society, and has impressed its image and written its name upon every thing hu
VI. Subsequent to the commencement of moral agency and previous to regeneration the moral depravity of mankind is universal.