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alone are the proper standard of truth ; but the Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy of the Church of England are an authorized exposition of the sense in which all her members profess to understand the Seriptures. To these therefore we appeal as well as to the sacred Records. But because it would occupy more time than can reasonably be al. lowed, for one discourse to appeal to all at once, we shall content ourselves with calling your attention to the Liturgy, and especially to that part of it which we call the general Confession. We will briefly state what doctrines we insist upon as necessary to be received ; and under each we will compare our statements with what we 66 read” in the Scriptares, and “ acknowledge" in our prayers : And we trust that, after having done this, we shall be able to adopt the language of the text, and say, “ We write none other things unto you than what ye read, and acknowledge.”
There are three things which, as it is our duty, so also it is our continual labour, to make known; namely, Our lost estate The means of our recovery
and The path of duty.
Permit me then to state what we declare respecting the first of these points, Our lost estate.
We declare, that every man is a sinner before God : that both the actions and the hearts of men are depraved : that whatever difference there may be between one and another with respect to open sin, there is no difference with respect to our alienation from God, or our radical aversion to his holy will. We affirm, that on account of our defection from God, we deserve his heavy displeasure: that the most moral and sober, as well as the base and profligate, are under condemnation on account of sin : and that all of us without exception must perish, if we do not turn to God in the way that he has prescribed.
We think, yea we are sure, that we have abundant proof of these things in the holy
Scriptures. The universality of our departure from God, and of our danger in consequence of it, is declared in the strongest terms by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Ro.
66 There is none righteous,” says he, “ no, not one : there is none that understandeth ; there is none that seeketh after God: they are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable ; there is none that doeth good, no not one.” To this he adds, “ that every mouth must be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.”* We could wish you particularly to notice what an accumulation of words there is in this short passage to prove the universality of our guilt and misery. Of righteous persons, there is a none," " none,”
none, ,"*no not one,” 6 no not one :” " all” are guilty, all 6 together,” even “every” person, and “ all the world." Will any one, after reading this passage, presume to think himself an exception ?
Nor is the depth of our depravity less clear than its universality. “ The heart,"
* Rom. iji. 10–19.
says Jeremiah, , “ is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it ?"* This is spoken, not of some particular person or age or country, but of mankind at large, even of our whole race. Solomon affirms the same, when he says, « The heart of the Sons of men is full of
madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.”+ And to the same effect is that declaration of St. Paul, that “ the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be."Ị To these general affirmations of Scripture, we may add the confessions of the most eminent Saints. Job, who was the most perfect man on earth in his day, no sooner attained the knowledge of his real character than he exclaimed, “ Behold, I am vile.” | St. Paul also, speaking of himself and of all the other Apostles, says, “ We all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our fleshy fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."*
* Jer. xyii. 9.
+ Eccl. ix. 3.
Job xl. 4.
In labouring to establish these awful truths we are often considered as libelling human nature, and as representing men in such an humiliating and distressed state as to fill them with melancholy, or drive them to despair. Let us then, in vindication both of ourselves and of our doctrines, compare these assertions with our public acknowledgments. We begin our confession with saying, “ We have 'erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.” This is a peculiar expression that must not be overlooked. We apprehend it does not mean merely that we have departed from God, but also that we have never sought to return to him : for other animals will find their way back when they have wandered from their home; but it is rarely, if ever, kuown that the sheep traces back its footsteps to the fold from
* Eph. ii. 3. and Tit. iii. 3.