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Sect. CXIV. — ANOTHER passage is that of Gen. viii. 21, “The thought and imagination of man’s heart, is evil from his youth.” And that also Gen. vi. 5, “Every imagination of man’s heart is only evil continually.” These passages it evades thus: — “The proneness to evil which is in most men, does not, wholly, take away the freedom of the will.” —

Does God, I pray you, here speak of ‘most men,’ and not rather of all men, when, after the flood, as it were repenting, He promises to those who were then remaining, and to those who were to come, that He would no more bring a flood upon the earth “for man’s sake:” assigning this as the reason: — because man is prone to evil! As though He had said, If I should act according to the wickedness of man, I should never cease from bringing a flood. Wherefore, henceforth, I will not act according to that which he deserves, &c. You see, therefore, that God, both before and after the flood, declares that man is evil: so that what the Diatribe says about ‘most men,’ amounts to nothing at all.

Moreover, a proneness or inclination to evil, appears to the Diatribe, to be a matter of little moment; as though it were in our own power to keep ourselves upright, or to restrain it: whereas the Scripture, by that proneness, signifies the continual bent and impetus of the will, to evil. Why does not the Diatribe here appeal to the Hebrew? Moses says nothing there about proneness. But, that you may have no room for cavillation, the Hebrew, (Gen. vi. 5), runs thus: — “CHOL IETZER MAHESCHEBOTH LIBBO RAK RA CHOL HAIOM:” that is, “Every imagination of the thought of the heart is only evil all days.” He does not say, that he is intent or prone to evil; but that, evil altogether, and nothing but evil, is thought or imagined by man throughout his whole life. The nature of his evil is described to be that, which neither does nor can do any thing but evil, as being evil itself: for, according to the testimony of Christ, an evil tree can bring forth none other than evil fruit. (Matt. vii. 17-18).

And as to the Diatribe’s pertly objecting — “Why was time given for repentance, then, if no part of repentance depend on Free-will, and all things be conducted according to the law of necessity.” —

I answer: You may make the same objection to all the precepts of God; and say, Why does He command at all, if all things take place of necessity? He commands, in order to instruct and admonish, that men, being humbled under the knowledge of their evil, might come to grace, as I have fully shewn already. — This passage, therefore, still remains invincible against the freedom of the will!

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