Man’s Depravation

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
~ Genesis 3:3, Genesis 3:6

And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
~ Ezekiel 37:3-5

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.
~ Job 33:4

Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
~ Isaiah 42:5

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
~ 1 Corinthians 1:21

But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
~ Matthew 13:16

And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
~ Numbers 22:22-23

The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.
~ Deuteronomy 29:3-4

Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD’S servant? Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not.
~ Isaiah 42:18-20

They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.
~ Isaiah 44:18

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
~ 2 Corinthians 3:15

O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
~ Deuteronomy 5:29

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
~ 2 Thessalonians 2:7-11

Corruption or Depravation of the Mind by Sin, by John Owen. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΟΛΟΓΙΑ (Pneumatologia) or, A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit Wherein An Account is Given of His Name, Nature, Personality, Operations, and Effects; His Whole Work in the Old and New Creation is Explained; the Doctrine Concerning It Vindicated From Oppositions and Reproaches.

“The nature and necessity of Gospel holiness; the differences between grace and morality, or a spiritual life unto God in evangelical obedience and a course of moral virtues, are stated and declared.”

Search the Scriptures, etc. — John v. 39.

Ἐκ τῶν θείων γραφᾶν θεολογοῦμεν, καὶ θέλωσιν οἱ ἐχθροὶ, καὶ μή. — Chrysostom.

London: 1674.

There is a twofold state of men with respect unto God, which is comprehensive of all individuals in the world; for all men are either unregenerate or regenerate. There being an affirmation and a negation concerning the state of regeneration in the Scripture, one of them may be used concerning every capable subject; every man living is so, or he is not so. And herein, as I suppose, there is a general consent of Christians. Again, it is evident in the Scripture, and we have proved it in our way, that all men are born in an unregenerate condition. This is so positively declared by our Saviour that there is no rising up against it, John iii. 3–8. Now, regeneration being the delivery of men (or the means of it) from that state and condition wherein they are born or are by nature, we cannot discover wherein it doth consist without a declaration of that state which it gives us deliverance from. And this, in the first place, we shall insist upon at large, giving an account of the state of lapsed nature under a loss of the original grace of God. And these things I shall handle practically, for the edification of all sorts of believers, and not in the way and method of the schools; which yet shall be done elsewhere.

In the declaration of the state of corrupted nature after the fall, and before the reparation of it by the grace of Jesus Christ, — that is, the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, — the Scripture principally insists on three things:90 — 1. The corruption and depravation of the mind; which it calls by the name of darkness and blindness, with the consequents of vanity, ignorance, and folly. 2. The depravation of the will and affections; which it expresseth several ways, as by weakness or impotency, and stubbornness or obstinacy. 3. By the general name of death, extended to the condition of the whole soul. And these have various effects and consequences, as in our explanation of them will appear.

All men by nature, not enlightened, not renewed in their minds by the saving, effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, are in a state of darkness and blindness with respect unto God and spiritual things, with the way of pleasing him and living unto him. Be men otherwise and in other things never so wise, knowing, learned, and skilful, in spiritual things they are dark, blind, ignorant, unless they are renewed in the spirit of their minds by the Holy Ghost. This is a matter which the world cannot endure to hear of, and it is ready to fall into a tumult upon its mention. They think it but an artifice which some weak men have got up, to reflect on and condemn them who are wiser than themselves On the like occasion did the Pharisees ask of our Saviour that question with pride and scorn, “Are we blind also?” John ix. 40. But as he lets them know that their presumption of light and knowledge would serve only to aggravate their sin and condemnation, verse 41; so he plainly tells them, that notwithstanding all their boasting, “they had neither heard the voice of God at any time, nor seen his shape,” chap. v. 37.

Some at present talk much about the power of the intellectual faculties of our souls, as though they were neither debased, corrupted, impaired, nor depraved. All that disadvantage which is befallen our nature by the entrance of sin is but in “the disorder of the affections and the inferior sensitive parts of the soul, which are apt to tumultuate and rebel against that pure untainted light which is in the mind!” And this they speak of it without respect unto its renovation by the Holy Spirit; for if they include that also, they are in their discourses most notorious confused triflers. Indeed, some of them write as if they had never deigned once to consult with the Scriptures, and others are plainly gone over into the tents of the Pelagians. But, setting aside their modern artifices of confident boasting, contemptuous reproaches, and scurrilous railings, it is no difficult undertaking so to demonstrate the depravation of the minds of men by nature, and their impotency thence to discern spiritual things in a spiritual manner,91 without a saving, effectual work of the Holy Spirit in their renovation, as that the proudest and most petulant of them shall not be able to return any thing of a solid answer thereunto. And herein we plead for nothing but the known doctrine of the ancient catholic church, declared in the writings of the most learned fathers and determinations of councils against the Pelagians, whose errors and heresies are again revived among us by a crew of Socinianized Arminians.

We may to this purpose first consider the testimonies given in the Scripture unto the assertion as laid down in general: Matt. iv. 16; “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” Of what kind this darkness was in particular shall be afterward declared. For the present it answers what is proposed, — that before the illumination given them by the preaching of the gospel, the people mentioned “sat in darkness,” or lived under the power of it. And such as was the light whereby they were relieved, of the same kind was the darkness under which they were detained. And in the same sense, when Christ preached the gospel, “the light shined in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not,” John i. 5, — gave not place to the light of the truth declared by him, that it might be received in the souls of men. The commission which he gave to Paul the apostle, when he sent him to preach the gospel, was, “To open the eyes of men, and to turn them from darkness to light,” Acts xxvi. 18; — not to a light within them; for internal light is the eye or seeing of the soul, but the darkness was such as consisted in their blindness, in not having their eyes open: “To open their eyes, and turn them from darkness.” Eph. v. 8, “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” What is the change and alteration made in the minds of men intended in this expression will afterward appear; but that a great change is proposed none can doubt. Col. i. 13, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness;” as also 1 Pet. ii. 9, “Who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” And the darkness which is in these testimonies ascribed unto persons in an unregenerate condition is by Paul compared to that which was at the beginning, before the creation of light: Gen. i. 2, “Darkness was upon the face of the deep.” There was no creature that had a visive faculty; there was darkness subjectively in all; and there was no light to see by, but all was objectively wrapped up in darkness. In this state of things, God by an almighty act of his power created light: Verse 3, “God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” And no otherwise is it in this new creation: “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines in the hearts of men, to give them the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Cor. iv. 6. Spiritual darkness is in and upon all men, until God, by an almighty and effectual work of the Spirit, shine into them, or create light in them. And this darkness is that light within which some boast to be in themselves and others!

To clear our way in this matter, we must consider, — first, the nature of this spiritual darkness, what it is, and wherein it doth consist; and then, secondly, show its efficacy and power in and on the minds of men, and how they are corrupted by it.

First, The term “darkness” in this case is metaphorical, and borrowed from that which is natural. What natural darkness is, and wherein it consists, all men know; if they know it not in its cause and reason, yet they know it by its effects. They know it is that which hinders men from all regular operations which are to be guided by the outward senses. And it is twofold:— 1. When men have not light to see by, or when the usual light, the only external medium for the discovery of distant objects, is taken from them. So was it with the Egyptians during the three days’ darkness that was on their land. They could not see for want of light; they had their visive faculty continued unto them, yet having “no light,” they “saw not one another, neither arose any from his place,” Exod. x. 23: for God, probably, to augment the terror of his judgment, restrained the virtue of artificial light, as well as he did that which was natural. 2. There is darkness unto men when they are blind, either born so or made so: Ps. lxix. 23, “Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not.” So the angels smote the Sodomites with blindness, Gen. xix. 11; and Paul the sorcerer, Acts xiii. 11. However the sun shineth, it is all one perpetual night unto them that are blind.

Answerable hereunto, spiritual darkness may be referred unto two heads; for there is an objective darkness, a darkness that is on men, and a subjective darkness, a darkness that is in them. The first consists in the want of those means whereby alone they may be enlightened in the knowledge of God and spiritual things. This is intended, Matt. iv. 16. This means is the word of God, and the preaching of it. Hence it is called a “light,” Ps. cxix. 105, and is said to “enlighten,” Ps. xix. 8, or to be “a light shining in a dark place,” 2 Pet. i. 19; and it is so termed, because it is the outward means of communicating the light of the knowledge of God unto the minds of men. What the sun is unto the world as unto things natural, that is the word and the preaching of it unto men as to things spiritual; and hence our apostle applies what is said of the sun in the firmament, as to the enlightening of the world, Ps. xix. 1–4, unto the gospel and the preaching of it, Rom. x. 15, 18.

And this darkness is upon many in the world, even all unto whom the gospel is not declared, or by whom it is not received, where it is or hath been so. Some, I know, have entertained a vain imagination about a saving revelation of the knowledge of God by the works of creation and providence, objected92 to the rational faculties of the minds of men. It is not my purpose here to divert unto the confutation of that fancy. Were it so, it were easy to demonstrate that there is no saving revelation of the knowledge of God unto sinners, but as he is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself; and that so he is not made known but by the word of reconciliation committed unto the dispensers of the gospel. Whatever knowledge, therefore, of God may be attained by the means mentioned, as he is the God of nature ruling over men, and requiring obedience from them according to the covenant and law of their creation, yet the knowledge of him as a God in Christ pardoning sin and saving sinners is attainable by the gospel only. But this I have proved and confirmed elsewhere.93

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to remove and take away this darkness; which until it is done no man can see the kingdom of God, or enter into it. And this he doth by sending the word of the gospel into any nation, country, place, or city, as he pleaseth. The gospel does not get ground in any place, nor is restrained from any place or people, by accident, or by the endeavours of men; but it is sent and disposed of according to the sovereign will and pleasure of the Spirit of God. He gifteth, calls, and sends men unto the work of preaching it, Acts xiii. 2, 4, and disposeth them unto the places where they shall declare it, either by express revelation, as of old, chap. xvi. 6–10, or guides them by the secret operations of his providence. Thus the dispensation of the “light of the gospel,” as to times, places, and persons, depends on his sovereign pleasure, Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20. Wherefore, although we are to take care and pray much about the continuance of the dispensation of the gospel in any place, and its propagation in others, yet need we not to be over-solicitous about it. This work and care the Holy Ghost hath taken on himself, and will carry it on according to the counsel of God and his purposes concerning the kingdom of Jesus Christ in this world. And thus far the dispensation of the gospel is only a causa sine quâ non of the regeneration of men, and the granting of it depends solely on the will of the Spirit of God.

It is subjective darkness which is of more direct and immediate consideration in this matter, the nature whereof, with what it doth respect, and the influence of it on the minds of men, must be declared, before we can rightly apprehend the work of the Holy Spirit in its removal by regeneration.

This is that whereby the Scripture expresseth the natural depravation and corruption of the minds of men, with respect unto spiritual things and the duty that we owe to God, according to the tenor of the covenant. And two things must be premised to our consideration of it; as, —

1. That I shall not treat of the depravation or corruption of the mind of man by the fall, with respect unto things natural, civil, political, or moral, but merely with regard to things spiritual, heavenly, and evangelical. It were easy to evince, not only by testimonies of the Scripture, but by the experience of all mankind, built on reason and the observation of instances innumerable, that the whole rational soul of man since the fall, and by the entrance of sin, is weakened, impaired, vitiated, in all its faculties and all their operations about their proper and natural objects. Neither is there any relief against these evils, with all those unavoidable perturbations wherewith it is possessed and actually disordered in all its workings, but by some secret and hidden operation of the Spirit of God, such as he continually exerts in the rule and government of the world. But it is concerning the impotency, defect, depravation, and perversity of the mind with respect unto spiritual things alone, that we shall treat at present. I say, then, —

2. That, by reason of that vice, corruption, or depravation of the minds of all unregenerate men, which the Scripture calls darkness and blindness, they are not able of themselves, by their own reasons and understandings, however exercised and improved, to discern, receive, understand, or believe savingly, spiritual things, or the mystery of the gospel, when and as they are outwardly revealed unto them, without an effectual, powerful work of the Holy Spirit, creating, or by his almighty power inducing, a new saving light into them.94 Let it be supposed that the mind of a man be no way hurt or impaired by any natural defect, such as doth not attend the whole race of mankind, but is personal only and accidental; suppose it free from contracted habits of vice or voluntary prejudices, — yet upon the proposal of the doctrine and mysteries of the gospel, let it be done by the most skilful masters of the assemblies, with the greatest evidence and demonstration of the truth, it is not able of itself, spiritually and savingly, to receive, understand, and assent unto them, without the especial aid and assistance and operation of the Holy Spirit.95

To evince this truth, we may consider, in one instance, the description given us in the Scripture of the mind itself, and its operations with respect unto spiritual things. This we have, Eph. iv. 17, 18, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” It is of the Gentiles that the apostle speaks, but the apostle speaks of them on the account of that which is common unto all men by nature; for he treats of their condition with respect unto the faculties of their minds and souls, wherein there is, as unto the life of God, or spiritual things, no difference naturally among men. And their operations and effects are, for the substance of them, the same.

Some, indeed, give such an account of this text as if the apostle had said, “Do not ye live after the manner of the heathens, in the vileness of those practices, and in their idol-worship. That long course of sin having blinded their understandings, so that they see not that which by the light of nature they are enabled to see, and, by that gross ignorance and obduration of heart, run into all impiety, (they) are far removed from that life which God and nature require of them.” It is supposed in this exposition, — (1.) That the apostle hath respect, in the first place, to the practice of the Gentiles, not to their state and condition. (2.) That this practice concerns only their idolatry and idol-worship. (3.) That what is here ascribed unto them came upon them by a long course of sinning. (4.) That the darkness mentioned consists in a not discerning of what might be seen by the light of nature. (5.) That their alienation from the life of God consisted in running into that impiety which was distant or removed from the life that God and nature require. But all these sentiments are so far from being contained in the text as that they are expressly contrary unto it; for, — (1.) Although the apostle doth carry on his description of this state of the Gentiles unto the vile practices that ensued thereon, verse 19, yet it is their state by nature, with respect unto the “life of God,” which is first intended by him. This is apparent from what he prescribes unto Christians in opposition thereunto, — namely, “The new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness,” verse 24. (2.) The “vanity” mentioned is subjective in their minds, and so hath no respect to idol-worship, but as it was an effect thereof. The “vanity of their minds” is the principle whereof this walking, be what it will, was the effect and consequent. (3.) Here is no mention nor intimation of any long course of sinning, much less that it should be the cause of the other things ascribed to the Gentiles; whereof, indeed, it was the effect. The description given is that of the state of all men by nature, as is plain from chap. ii. 1–3. (4.) The “darkness” here mentioned is opposed unto being “light in the Lord,” chap. v. 8; which is not mere natural light, nor can any by that light alone discern spiritual things, or the things that belong to the life of God. (5.) The life of God here is not that life which God and nature require, but that life which God reveals in, requires, and communicates by, the gospel, through Jesus Christ, as all learned expositors acknowledge. Wherefore the apostle treateth here of the state of men by nature with respect unto spiritual and supernatural things. And three heads he reduceth all things in man unto:— 1. He mentions τὸν νοῦν, the “mind;” 2. Τὴν διάνοιαν, the “understanding;” and, 3. Τὴν καρδίαν, the “heart.” And all these are one entire principle of all our moral and spiritual operations, and are all affected with the darkness and ignorance whereof we treat.

1. There is ὁ νοῦς, the “mind.” This is the τὸ ἡγεμονικόν, the leading and ruling faculty of the soul. It is that in us which looketh out after proper objects for the will and affections to receive and embrace. Hereby we have our first apprehensions of all things, whence deductions are made to our practice. And hereunto is ascribed ματαιότης, “vanity:” “They walk in the vanity of their mind.” Things in the Scripture are said to be vain which are useless and fruitless. Μάταιος, “vain,” is from μάτην, “to no purpose,” Matt. xv. 9. Hence the apostle calls the idols of the Gentiles, and the rites used in their worship, μάταια, “vain things,” Acts xiv. 15. So he expresseth the Hebrew, הַבְלֵי־שָׁוְא‎, Jonah ii. 8, “lying vanities,” or אָוֶן‎; which is as much as ἀνωφελές, a thing altogether useless and unprofitable, according to the description given of them, 1 Sam. xii. 21, הַתֹּהוּ אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יוֹעִילוּ וְלֹא יַצִּילוּ כִּי־תֹהוּ הַמָּה‎, — “Vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.” There is no profit in nor use of that which is vain. As the mind is said to be vain, or under the power of vanity, two things are intended:— (1.) Its natural inclination unto things that are vain, — that is, such as are not a proper nor useful object unto the soul and its affections. It seeks about to lead the soul to rest and satisfaction, but always unto vain things, and that in great variety. Sin, the world, pleasures, the satisfaction of the flesh, with pride of life, are the things which it naturally pursues. And in actings of this nature a vain mind abounds; it multiplies vain imaginations, like the sand on the seashore. These are called “The figments of the hearts of men,” Gen. vi. 5, which are found to be only “evil continually.” These it feigns and frames, abundantly bringing them forth, as the earth doth grass, or as a cloud pours out drops of water. And herein, (2.) It is unstable; for that which is vain is various, inconstant, unfixed, light, as a natural mind is, so that it is like hell itself for confusion and disorder, or the whorish woman described by Solomon, Prov. vii. 11, 12. And this hath befallen it by the loss of that fixed regularity which it was created in. There was the same cogitative or imaginative faculty in us in the state of innocency as there remains under the power of sin; but then all the actings of it were orderly and regular, — the mind was able to direct them all unto the end for which we were made. God was, and would have been, the principal object of them, and all other things in order unto him. But now, being turned off from him, the mind in them engageth in all manner of confusion; and they all end in vanity or disappointment. They offer, as it were, their service unto the soul, to bring it in satisfaction. And although they are rejected one after another, as not answering what they pretend unto, yet they constantly arise under the same notion, and keep the whole soul under everlasting disappointments. And from hence it is that the mind cannot assent unto the common principles of religion in a due manner, which yet it cannot deny. This will be farther cleared afterward. Hereon in conversion unto God, we are said to have our minds renewed, Rom. xii. 2, and to be “renewed in the spirit of our mind,” Eph. iv. 23. By the “mind” the faculty itself is intended, the rational principle in us of apprehension, of thinking, discoursing, and assenting. This is renewed by grace, or brought into another habitude and frame, by the implantation of a ruling, guiding, spiritual light in it. The “spirit” of the mind, is the inclination and disposition in the actings of it; these also must be regulated by grace.

2. There is the δάνοια, the “understanding.” This is the τὸ διακριτικόν, the directive, discerning, judging faculty of the soul, that leads it unto practice. It guides the soul in the choice of the notions which it receives by the mind. And this is more corrupt than the mind itself; for the nearer things come to practice, the more prevalent in them is the power of sin. This, therefore, is said to be “darkened;” and being so, it is wholly in vain to pretend a sufficiency in it to discern spiritual things without a supernatural illumination. Light, in the dispensation of the gospel, shines, or casts out some rays of itself, into this darkened understanding of men, but that receives it not, John i. 5.

3. There is καρδία, the “heart.” This in Scripture is τὸ πρακτικόν in the soul, the practical principle of operation, and so includes the will also. It is the actual compliance of the will and affections with the mind and understanding, with respect unto the objects proposed by them. Light is received by the mind, applied by the understanding, used by the heart. Upon this, saith the apostle, there is πώρωσις, “blindness.” It is not a mere ignorance or incomprehensiveness of the notions of truth that is intended, but a stubborn resistance of light and conviction. An obstinate and obdurate hardness is upon the heart, whence it rejects all the impressions that come upon it from notions of truth. And on these considerations men themselves before conversion are said to be “darkness,” Eph. v. 8. There may be degrees in a moral privation, but when it is expressed in the abstract, it is a sign that it is at its height, that it is total and absolute. And this is spoken with respect unto spiritual and saving light only, or a saving apprehension of spiritual truths. There is not in such persons so much as any disposition remaining to receive saving knowledge, any more than there is a disposition in darkness itself to receive light. The mind, indeed, remains a capable subject to receive it, but hath no active power nor disposition in itself towards it; and, therefore, when God is pleased to give us a new ability to understand and perceive spiritual things in a due manner, he is said to give us a new faculty, because of the utter disability of our minds naturally to receive them, 1 John v. 20. Let vain men boast whilst they please of the perfection and ability of their rational faculties with respect unto religion and the things of 253God, this is the state of them by nature, upon His judgment that must stand forever.

And, by the way, it may not be amiss to divert here a little unto the consideration of that exposition which the whole world and all things in it give unto this text and testimony concerning the minds of natural men being under the power of vanity, for this is the spring and inexhaustible fountain of all that vanity which the world is filled with. There is, indeed, a vanity which is penal, — namely, that vexation and disappointment which men finally meet withal in the pursuit of perishing things, whereof the wise man treats at large in his Ecclesiastes; but I intend that sinful vanity which the mind itself produces, and that in all sorts of persons, ages, sexes, and conditions in the world. This some of the heathens saw, complained of, reproved, and derided, but yet could never reach to the cause of it, nor free themselves from being under the power of the same vanity, though in a way peculiar and distinct from the common sort, as might easily be demonstrated. But the thing is apparent; almost all that our eyes see or our ears hear of in the world is altogether vain. All that which makes such a noise, such a business, such an appearance and show among men, may be reduced unto two heads:— (1.) The vanity that they bring into the things that are, and that are either good in themselves and of some use, or at least indifferent. So men do variously corrupt their buildings and habitations, their trading, their conversation, their power, their wealth, their relations. They join innumerable vanities with them, which render them loathsome and contemptible, and the meanest condition to be the most suitable to rational satisfaction. (2.) Men find out, and as it were create, things to be mere supporters, countenancers, and nourishers of vanity. Such, in religion, are carnal, pompous ceremonies, like those of the church of Rome, which have no end but to bring in some kind of provision for the satisfaction of vain minds; stage-players, mimics, with innumerable other things of the same nature, which are nothing but theatres for vanity to act itself upon. It were endless but to mention the common effects of vanity in the world. And men are mightily divided about these things. Those engaged in them think it strange that others run not out into the “same compass of excess and riot with themselves, speaking evil of them,” 1 Pet. iv. 4. They wonder at the perverse, stubborn, and froward humour which befalls some men, that they delight not in, that they approve not of, those things and ways wherein they find so great a suitableness unto their own minds. Others, again, are ready to admire whence it is that the world is mad on such vain and foolish things as it is almost wholly given up unto. The consideration we have insisted on gives us a satisfactory account of the grounds and 254reasons hereof. The mind of man by nature is wholly vain, under the power of vanity, and is an endless, fruitful womb of all monstrous births. The world is now growing towards six thousand years old, and yet is no nearer the bottom of the springs of its vanity, or the drawing out of its supplies, than it was the first day that sin entered into it. New sins, new vices, new vanities, break forth continually; and all is from hence, that the mind of man by nature is altogether vain. Nor is there any way or means for putting a stop hereunto in persons, families, cities, nations, but so far as the minds of men are cured and renewed by the Holy Ghost. The world may alter its shape and the outward appearances of things, it may change its scenes, and act its part in new habits and dresses, but it will still be altogether vain so long as natural uncured vanity is predominant in the minds of men; and this will sufficiently secure them from attaining any saving acquaintance with spiritual things.

Footnotes:

90 “Dico veterem Nativitatem atque adeo omnes vires naturæ, quæ naturali propagatione transfunduntur in sobolem in scriptura damnari; maledictam cordis nostri imaginationem, rationem, os, manus, pedes peccato et tenebris involuta in nobis omnia.” — Johan. Ferus in Evang. Joh. cap. i. v. 23. “Fide perdita, spe relicta, intelligentia obcæcata, voluntate captiva, homo quo in se reparetur non invenit.” — De Vocat. Gent. lib. vii. cap. 3.

91 “Si quis per naturæ vigorem evangelizanti predicationi nos consentire posse confirmet absque illuminatione Spiritus Sancti; hæretico fallitur spiritu.” — Conc. Arausic. ii. can. 7.

92 In the sense of “placed before,” “presented.” — Ed.

93 See treatise, “Communion with God,” and his “Vindication” of it in reply to Dr Sherlock, vol ii. — Ed.

94 “Quomodo nempe lux incassum circumfundit oculos cæcos vel clausos, ita animalis homo non percipit ea quæ sunt Spiritus Dei.” — 1 Cor. ii. 14; Bernard. Ser. i. sup. Cantic.

95 “Si quis per naturæ vigorem bonum aliquod quod ad salutem pertinet vitæ æternæ, cogitare ut expedit, aut eligere, sive salutari, id est, Evangelicæ prædicationi consentire posse confirmat, absque illuminatione et inspiratione Spiritus Sancti, qui dat omnibus suavitatem consentiendo et credendo veritati, hæretico fallitur spiritu.” — Conc. Arausic. ii. can. 7.
“Ideo dictum est quia nullus hominum illuminatur nisi illo lumine veritatis quod Deus est; ne quisquam putaret ab eo se illuminari, a quo aliquid audit ut discat, non dico si quenquam magnum hominem, sed nec si angelum ei contingat habere doctorem. Adhibetur enim sermo veritatis extrinsecus vocis ministerio corporali; verumtamen neque qui plantat est aliquid, neque qui rigat, sed qui incrementum dat Deus. Audit quippe homo dicentem vel hominem vel angelum, sed ut sentiat et cognoscat verum esse quod dicitur, illo lumine mens ejus intus aspergitur, quod æternum manet, quod etiam in tenebris lucet.” — August. de Peccat. Meritis et Remissione, lib. i. cap. 25.

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