The Way Made Plain

By James H. Brookes

Chapter 2




Unbelief and all other iniquities spring from a nature essentially corrupt, according to the abundant testimony of God, and consequently the force of the argument to establish man's need of salvation becomes irresistible if this can be shown. Let us look, then, at some of the testimony as it lies scattered throughout the Bible. In the beginning of the inspired word, and at a period in the history of our race which poets delight to celebrate as marked by winning simplicity and crowned with childlike innocence, we are told, " God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."1 The words every and only and evil and continually are exceedingly significant in this connection, for they show that the whole fabrication or formation which distinguished him from the brute creation, including all the imaginations, desires, and purposes of the soul, were sinful, and sinful unceasingly.

Again, we read: "God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth."2 Again, hundreds of years later, it is said: "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one."3 Again, Jehovah says, by the prophet Isaiah: "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."4 Again, He declares, by the prophet Jeremiah, that " the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"5

Passing by other testimony in the old covenant Scriptures which could be gathered from every book, and in some form from nearly every chapter, we hear our Lord saying, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh,"6 and, "From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man."7

Glancing forward a little farther, we find the inspired apostle writing, "We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that man's need of salvation 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. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes."8

The same apostle also says, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing;"9 "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be;"10 and, "You hath he quickened, who were dead [not sick nor dying, but dead] in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."11

Without quoting other declarations of the same import, enough has been said to show that, according to the infallible testimony of God, man is utterly ruined. Whenever, wherever, and however tried, he has proved a miserable fail are. He was tried in Eden, and failed; for having believed the devil's lie, and plucked the forbidden fruit, conscious guilt took the place of original innocence, " and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden."12 He was tried before the giving of the law, and failed, for " until the law sin was in the world;"13 and the Holy Ghost deduces from the universal prevalence of death the universal supremacy of sin; leading us to hear in every dying groan the thrilling announcement and to see in every new-made grave the visible demonstration of Jehovah's righteous abhorrence of iniquity. He was tried under the law, and failed; for it is written, " We know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore, by the deeds of law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."14 He was tried under grace, and failed; f or " this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil."15

We cannot be surprised at this repeated failure under the most favorable circumstances, when we learn that after Adam fell from the high estate in which he was created, in the image and likeness of God, he " begat a son in his own likeness, after his image."16 "In Adam all die."17 "Through the offence of one many be dead."18 "By one man's disobedience many were made [or constituted] sinners."19 "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one."20 "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."21 We discover, therefore, that there is an evil lying back of mere outward transgressions; for God, who knows all about us, declares that we are by nature children of wrath, or exposed to punishment, and hence by nature we are corrupt. We have no difficulty in understanding what is meant when it is said that a tiger is by nature bloodthirsty; and he who is willing to accept God's testimony, although it profoundly abases self, can have no difficulty in understanding what the Bible means when it says that by nature we are sinful.


Out of this corrupt nature necessarily spring those evil deeds which are plainly contrary to the law of God, and therefore promptly recognized by an enlightened conscience as sinful. " Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit."22 Do what you will with a tree in cultivating, pruning, or transplanting it, you can never so change its nature that thorns will bring forth grapes and thistles will produce figs. So, do what you will with man by all the appliances of the highest culture and the most refined civilization, you cannot so change his nature that it will become holy. God can—and, blessed be His name! He does—impart a new nature by the power of the Holy Ghost, through faith in Jesus Christ, as revealed in His word; but the nature which we derive by birth from our parents is evil, and only evil, continually.

That the outward manifestations of such a nature should be in open conflict with the law of God is just what might be expected. "Sin," we are told, " is the transgression of the law ";23 or, to render strictly, "sin is lawlessness ": it is that spirit of insubordination, that inward resistance to Divine authority, which distinguishes the soul, and which finds expression in unceasing and flagrant disobedience. The law says, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."24 Our theological writers are much in the habit of speaking of the law as the transcript or reflection of the Divine nature; but surely the Divine nature is more than law, " for God is love";25 and hence it would be better to say that the law is the transcript or reflection of the Divine will concerning the duty of man to his Creator and his fellow creatures.

Of this law it may be affirmed, first, that it "is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good";26 second, that it is immutable, for it" cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,"27 and "till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled";28 and third, that it has a penalty, for "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them ";29 " the wages of sin is death";30 and "the soul that sinneth, it shall die."31 Now, when you add to this the solemn and distinct testimony of the Bible, over and over again repeated that '' all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,"32 it is impossible to resist the conclusion that every man by nature is in immediate and inexpressible need of salvation.


After what has been said it is hardly necessary to dwell upon the words of our Lord when He exclaimed, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."33 When He made this statement He was speaking with Nicodemus, who was a master of Israel, a ruler of the Jews, and blameless, as we would say, in all his character and conduct. Even he was informed that, Except a man (or, as it is in the original, Except any one. Except every one) be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. The best, therefore, can do with nothing less than this, whatever may be their standing in their own estimation or in the estimation of others. " Marvel not that I said unto thee. Ye must be born again."34 I do not deny for a moment the possession of amiable traits of character and virtuous principles of conduct by thousands who know nothing of Christ as their Saviour; but still I dare not go back of His own explicit declaration, " Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."35

All the attractiveness of the most lovely disposition, and all the firmness of the most incorruptible integrity, may exist without the slightest reference to the will and glory of God, and therefore they may exist without the least spiritual life. We often witness in the brute creation touching exhibitions of devoted affection, of unswerving fidelity", of unflinching courage, and of what would be termed in man the loftiest nobility of action; but among the inferior animals there is a total want of spiritual life, because there is a total want of capacity to know God and to perform these heroic deeds from the high and commanding motive of regard to the pleasure of God. Now, of human beings it may truthfully be affirmed, no less than of the lower orders of beings, that by nature they are incapable of knowing and loving the true God and that they are utterly devoid of spiritual life until born again and made a new creation in Christ Jesus. Out of scores of texts that could be easily quoted to sustain this important proposition, two or three must answer for the present: " He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."36 "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."37 "Without faith it is impossible to please him."38 Whatever else a man has, whatever excellences that excite our admiration and win our regard, he has not life until he has the Son by faith in His name; and hence we again see man's deep need of salvation.


The last argument I advance to prove this fact, which it is absolutely essential that my readers should receive with an intelligent and fixed conviction of its truth, is derived from the oft-repeated declarations of God threatening the most terrible punishment against those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ in His Divine person and atoning work. " He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."39 "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."40 "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."41 "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."42

Every careful reader of the Holy Scriptures knows that such passages are constantly found in the sacred pages; and if any are disposed to call them in question, they should remember that their controversy is not with the author of this book, but with the Author of the Bible, God Himself, "the Father of mercies,"43 who " doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men,"44 has distinctly warned us that if we die in unbelief eternal and intolerable sufferings await us in the future world. Dear, dying reader, heed the warning, I beseech you, and " flee from the wrath to come."45 I have shown you, upon the testimony of One who cannot lie, that all men, without a single exception, as they are born into the world, need salvation, and I pray God that you will not slight this testimony. Your unbelief will not affect its truth for an instant, but as the Lord liveth, your unbelief, if persisted in, will seal your " everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day."46



1) Gen. vi. 5.

2) Gen. vi. 12.

3) Ps. xiv. 2, 3.

4) Isa. i. 5, 6.

5) Jer. xvii. 9.

6) John iii. 6.

7) Mark vii. 21-23.

8) Rom. iii. 9-18.

9) Rom. vii. 18.

10) Rom. viii. 7.

11) Eph. ii. 1-3.

12) Gen. iii. 8.

13) Rom. v. 13.

14) Rom. iii. 19, 20.

15) John iii. 19.

16) Gen. v. 3.

17) 1 Cor. xv. 22.

18) Rom. v. 15.

19) Rom. v. 19.

20) Job xiv. 4,

21) Ps. li. 5.

22) Matt. vii. 16-18.

23) 1 John iii. 4.

24) Mark xii. 30, 31.

25) 1 John iv. 8.

26) Rom. vii. 12.

27) James i. 17.

28) Matt. v.. 18.

29) Gal. iii. 10.

30) Rom. vi. 23.

31) Ezek. xviii. 4.

32) Rom. iii. 23.

33) John iii. 3.

34) John iii. 7.

35) John iii. 5.

36) 1 John v. 12.

37) Rom. xiv. 23.

38) Heb. xi. 6.

39) John iii. 36.

40) Mark xvi. 15, 16.

41) Matt. xxv. 46.

42) Rev. xxi. 8.

43) 2 Cor. i. 3.

44) Lam. iii. 33.

45) Matt. iii. 7.

46) 2 Thess. i. 9, 10.