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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Man’s Natural State

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851) originally published this essay in the Princeton Theological Review, 1836. In these excerpts, Alexander describes the alienation of man from God:

That human nature has lost that moral purity and perfection with which it was originally endued, is a truth which lies at the heart of the Christian religion. Indeed, we see not how it can be denied by the deist, without casting a gross reflection on the character of God. It is only from the Scriptures, however, that we learn the origin of evil. Here we read that God made man upright, but he hath sought out many inventions. Man being in honor continued not. When God created man he formed him in his own image and after his own likeness; and what that image consisted in, the apostle Paul informs us, when he speaks of the new creation. “And that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind. And that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” The phrase “after God,” means after the image of God. This is expressed in the parallel passage, “Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”

By the fall this moral image was effaced. The mind which had been illumined by divine truth became spiritually blind; the heart whose exercises had been holy and harmonious, became corrupt, the hot-bed of every vicious propensity, and the center of darkness and disorder. Instead of moral beauty, there was now deformity. In the place of pure felicity, misery succeeded. The soul was now turned with aversion from God and holiness, and the affections attached themselves to the creature. Reason and conscience no longer had control over the inferior passions and appetites; but these, seizing the reins of government, urged man on to carnal indulgences inconsistent with purity and peace. Being now alienated from God, man became his own center around which he endeavored to make all things revolve, from which the most direful disorder ensued; yet he persists in acting upon this principle of supreme selfishness. Although this depravity was from its commencement total, inasmuch as all holy exercise and all holy motives were banished from the mind; yet is human iniquity capable of indefinite increase. Its natural progress is from bad to worse, without a conceivable limit. All therefore are not equal in sin and guilt. The same person is comparatively innocent when he commences his course, to what he becomes at the end of a long life of transgression. And the enormity of his guilt, as well as the obstinate perverseness of his evil nature, depends on the clearness of the light resisted, and the multitude of the mercies abused. Wickedness may attain its greatest visible height among the heathen, but in the sight of God, self-righteous Pharisees are more guilty than Publicans; and Bethsaida, Chorazin and Capernaum will have a more intolerable doom than Tyre and Sidon, or even than Sodom itself. The deepest guilt is contracted under the clear sunshine of the gospel, and by those whose privileges, opportunities, calls and professions, lay them under the strongest obligations to love and serve their Creator. (“A Practical View of Regeneration”)

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