A Short Essay on Original Sin
By one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners (Rom. 5:19).
Self-knowledge is a science to which most persons pretend; but, like the philosopher’s stone it is a secret which none are masters of in its full extent. The mystic writers suppose that before the fall, man’s body was transparent, analogous to a system of animated chrystal. Be this as it may, we are sure that, was the mind now to inhabit a pellucid body, so pellucid as to make manifest all the thoughts and all the evil workings of the holiest heart on earth, the sight would shock and frighten and astonish even_ the most profligate sinner on this side hell. Every man would be an insupportable burden to himself, and a stalking horror to the rest of his species. For which reasons among others,
Heaven’s Sovereign saves all beings but himself
That hideous sight, a naked human heart.
The most enlightened believer in the, world knows not the utmost of his natural depravation, nor is able to fathom that inward abyss of iniquity which is perpetually throwing up mire and dirt; and which, like a spring of poison at the bottom of a well, infects and discolours the whole mass Let the light of Scripture and of grace give us ever such humbling views of ourselves, and lead us ever so far into the chambers of imagery within, there still are more and greater abominations beyond: and, somewhat like the ages of eternity, the farther we advance the more there is to come.
The heart of man, says God by the prophet, is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? — In me, said the apostle, that is, in my flesh, abstracted from supernatural grace, dwelleth no good thing.—And, says a greater than both, 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 (Mark vii). Is it possible that any who calls himself a Christian can, after considering the above declaration of Christ, dare to term the human mind a sheet of white paper? No - it is naturally a sheet of paper blotted and blurred throughout. So blotted and defiled all over, that nothing but the inestimable blood of God, and the invincible Spirit of grace, can make it clean and white.
Neither the temptations of Satan by which we are exercised, nor the bad examples of others which we are so prone to imitate, are the causes of this spiritual and moral leprosy. They are but the occasions of stirring up and of calling forth the latent corruptions within. If (as David speaks) our inward parts were not very wickedness,, if we were not shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin, if enmity to God and holiness was not moulded into our very frame and texture; temptation and bad example would bid fair to excite out abhorrence, instead of engaging our compliance, conciliating our imitation, and operating with such general success. The truth is, we all have an inherent bias to bad, which readily falls in with the instigations that present themselves from without. Similis similent sibi quaerit. Inward and exterior evil catch at each other by a sort of sympathy, resulting from a sameness of affection, nature and relationship. It is the degenerate tinder in the heart which takes fire from the sparks of temptation. Hold a match to snow, and no inflammation will ensue. But apply the match to gunpowder, and the whole train is in a blaze.
How must such a heart appear if exposed to the intuitive view of an observing angel! And, above all, how black must it appear in the eyes of immense and uncreated purity, of the God who is glorious in holiness, and compared with whom the very heavens are not clean! Judge of the infinite malignity of sin by the price which was paid to redeem us from it, and by the power which is exerted in converting us from the dominion of it. For the former, no less than the incarnation and death of God’s own Soil could avail. For the latter, no less agency than that of God’s own Spirit can suffice.
The hints already premised give us (as far as they go) the true moral picture of a fallen soul: and such would all the descendants of Adam appear in their own eyes, and feel themselves to be, did they, by the light of the Holy Spirit, see themselves in the pure unflattering glass of God’s most perfect law.
This likewise is the view in which the Church of England represents the state of man by nature. “Man, of his own nature, is fleshly and carnal, corrupt and naught, sinful and disobedient to God! without any spark of goodness in him, without any virtuous or godly motion, only given to evil thoughts and wicked deeds. As for the marks of the Spirit, the fruits of faith, charitable and godly motions, if lie have any at all in him, they proceed only of the Holy Ghost, who is Le only worker of our sanctification, and maketh us new men in Christ Jesus.”
Strong as this painting is, it is no caricature. Not a single feature of our natural corruption is exaggerated or over-charged. You who read, and I who write; yea, every individual of mankind that now lives or shall hereafter be born; may with the Church of old plead guilty to the whole indictment, saying, We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.
I have read of an English painter who after only once meeting any stranger in the streets, could go home and paint that person’s picture to the life. Let us suppose that one whose likeness has been taken in this manner should happen to see unexpectedly his own picture. It would startle him. The exact similitude of -shape, air, features, and complexion would convince him that the representation was designed for himself though, his own name be not affixed to it, and he is conscious that he never sat for the piece. In the Scriptures of truth we have a striking delineation of human depravity through original sin. Though we have not sat to the inspired painters, the likeness suits us all. When the Spirit of God holds up the mirror and shews us to ourselves, we see, we feel, we deplore, our apostacy from, and our inability to recover the image of, his rectitude. Experience proves the horrid likeness true; and we need no arguments to convince us that in and of ourselves we are spiritually wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked.
But how came man into a state so different from that in which Adam was created? Few enquiries are so important; and no subject has given occasion to more various and extensive disquisition. Multitudes of conjectures have been advanced, and volumes upon volumes have been written concerning the origin of human ill.
That moral evil, in almost every possible branch of it; and that natural evil, as the consequence of moral; do actualy abound all over the world, are truths too evident to be denied. That the matter of fact is so will not admit of a moment’s dispute. But concerning the primary cause and inlet of these evils, men are not so unanimously agreed.
Some of the more considerable and judicious philosophers of heathen antiquity, particularly the oriental ones (from whom the opinion was learned and adopted by Plato), supposed that the spirits which occupy and animate human bodies were a sort of fallen angels who, having been originally spirits of very superior rank, were, for misbehaviour in a nobler state of pre-existence, deposed from their thrones, degraded into human souls, and shut up in mortal bodies. Of course those philosophers considered this earth as a place of banishment, and bodies as a kind of moving dungeon, where souls wander about like prisoners at large, obnoxious to a vast variety of pains and inconveniences; by way Of penance for past misdemeanors, and as a means of gradual purification, prelusive to their eventual restitution to the happiness from which they had fallen.
Conformably to this view of things, Plato chose to derive soma the Greek word for body; from sayma which signifies a tomb or sepulchre: on supposition that the body is that to a soul which a grave is to the body; and that souls emerge from the body by death as a bird flies from a broken cage, or as a captive escapes from a place of painful and dishonourable confinement.
Not a few of the eastern sages pursued the idea of the pre-existence of souls to such a length as to suppose that the immaterial principles, which undoubtedly actuate the bodies of animalculae, of insects, and of brutes, are no other than fallen spirits, reduced to a class of extreme degradation: that, in proportion to the crimes committed in their unembodied state, they were thrust into material vehicles of greater or of less dignity: and that, passing through a sucsessive series of transmigrations from a meaner body to a nobler, they rise, by continual progression, from animalculae to insects, from insects to birds or beasts, and from these to men; till at last they recover the full grandeur and felicity of their primitive condition. All these supposed changes and removals from a humbler body to a higher were considered, by the philosophers who adopted this hypothesis, as so many stages both of punishment and of purgation; by which, as by steps rising. one above another, the imprisoned spirit grew more and more refined, its powers widened into greater expansion, and itself approached nearer to its original and its final perfection.
I must own that this was a train of conjectures extremely ingenious, and not a little plausible, when viewed as formed by persons who had not the light of the Bible to see by. And I believe that, for my own part, 1 should have fallen in with this system, as the least improbable, and the least embarrassed, of any other, had not the gracious providence of God assigned my birth and residence in a country where the Scriptures of inspiration kindly hold the lamp to benighted reason.
St. Paul, within the compass of two or three lines, comprises more than all the numberless uninspired volumes which have been written on the subject. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so [hootoas in this way, or by this chain of mediums] death (di-ale-then) went through upon all men; inasmuch as all have sinned. Rom. v. 12.
It is evident, hence, that previously to the first offence of that one man, who was the father of the human race, he was sinless, and, of course, happy and deathless. —Let us for a moment carry back our meditations to the garden of Eden, and endeavour to take a view of Adam. prior to his fall.
The sacred oracles acquaint us that the first man was created spiritually and morally upright; nay, that lie was made after the image of God; and was (in some respects, and with due allowance for the necessary imperfection inseparable from a creature) the living transcript of him that formed Him.
This phrase, the image of God, is to be understood chiefly in a spiritual, and entirely in a figurative, sense. It does not refer to the beauty and to the erect stature of the body but to the holy and sublime qualifications of the soul. The grand outlines therefore of that divine resemblance, in which Adam was constructed, were holiness, knowledge, dominion, happiness, and immortality.
But man, being thus made in honour, abode not as he was made. For reasons best known to that unerring Providence which ordains and directs every event, it was the Divine pleasure to permit an apostate spirit (whose creation and fall were prior to the formation of man) to present the poisonous cup of temptation: whereof our first parents tasted, and, in tasting, fell.
Whether any of the dismal effects which instantly ensued were partly owing to some physical quality in the fruit itself; or whether all the effects which followed were simply annexed to that act of disobedienceby the immediate will and power of God; were an enquiry more curious perhaps than important.
So also is another question: which relates to the particular kind of fruit borne by the forbidden tree. Whether it was a pomegranate or a cluster of grapes; an apple or a citron, Scripture has not revealed, nor are we concerned to know.
This only we are sure of, from Scripture, reason, observation, and our own experience; that mankind, from that day forward, universally lost the perfection of God’s image, that theia fusis, and homoiosis toe theo, or divine nature, and likeness to God, as Plato calls it: and sunk in to, what the same philosopher styles, to atheon, a state ungodlike, and undivine. Our purity vanished. Our knowledge suffered an almost total eclipse. Our dominion was abridged into very narrow bounds: for no sooner did man revolt from his obedience to God than a vast part of the animal creation revolted from its obedience to man. Our happiness was exchanged for a complication of infirmities and miseries. And our immortality was cut short by onehalf: a moiety of us (i.e. the body) being sentenced to return for a time to the dust whence it sprang. The immortality of the soul seems to be the only feature of the divine likeness which the fall has left entire.
Hence, even from Adam’s transgression, proceeds that ataxia or disorder and irregularity, both of being and events, diffused through the whole world. Hence it is that the earth brings forth weeds and poisonous vegetables That the seasons are variable.
That the air is raught with diseases. And that the very food we eat administers to our future dissolution, even at the time of its contributing to our present sustenance.
Hence, also, proceed the pains and the eventual death of inferior animals. All sublunary nature partakes of that curse which was inflicted for the sin of man. Whether these ranks of innocent beings, which are involved in the consequences of human guilt shall, at the times of the restitution of all things (a) be restored to a life of happiness and immortality, (which they seem, to have enjoyed in paradise before the fall, and of which they became deprived by a transgression not their own); rests with the wisdom and goodness of that God whose mercy is over all his works. It is my own private opinion (and as such only I advance it), that Scripture seems, in more places than one, to warrant the supposition. Particularly, Rom. viii. 19-21, which I would thus render and thus punctuate: The earnestly wishful expectancy of the creation, i.e. of the brute creation; that implicit thirst after happiness, wrought and kneaded into the very being of every creature endued with sensitive life; virtually waits with vehement desire, for that appointed, glorious manifestation of the sons of God which is to take place in the millenniary state: for the creation, the lower animal creation, was subjected to (b) uneasiness, not willing it, or through any voluntary transgression comwitted by themselves; but by reason or on account of (c) him who subjected them to pain and death, in hope, and with a view, that this very creation shall likewise be emancipated from the bondage of corruption into the glorious, liberty of the children of God. What a field of pleasing and exalted speculation does this open to the benevolent and philosophic mind!
But I return to what more immediately concerns ourselves.
When Adam fell, he fell not only as a private individual, but also as a public person: just as the second Adam, Jesus Christ the righteous, did afterward, in the fulness of time, obey and die, as the covenant Surety and representative of all his elect people.
The first Adam acted in our names, and stood in our stead, and represented our persons in the covenant of works. And, since his posterity would have partaken of all the benefits resulting from his continuance in the state of integrity; I see not the injustice of their bearing a part in the calamities consequent on his apostacy. We cannot but observe in the common and daily course of things, that children very frequently inherit the diseases, the defects, the poverty and the losses of their parents. And if this be not unjust in the dispensations of Providence (for if it was unjust, God would certainly order matter, otherwise); why should it be deemed inequitable that moral as well as natural evil, that the cause as well as the effects, should be transmitted, by a sad but uninterrupted succession, from father to son?
Many of the truths revealed in Scripture require some intenseness of thought, some labour of investigation to apprehend them clearly, and to understand them rightly. But the natural depravation of mankind is a fact which we have proofs of every hour, and which stares us in the face, let us look which way we will.
Indeed we need not look around us for demonstration that our whole species has lost the image of God. If the Holy Spirit have at all enlightened us into a view of our real state, we need but look within ourselves for abundant proof that our nature must have been morally poisoned in its source; that our first parent sinned; and that we, with the rest of his sons, are sharers in his fall. So that, as good bishop Beveridge observes (in his commentary on the ninth of our Church Article), “Though there be no such words as original sin to be found in Scripture, yet we have all too sad experience that there is such a thing as original sin to be found in our hearts.”
Heathens themselves have felt and acknowledged that they were depraved beings; and depraved, not by imitation only, but by nature; or (as the Church of England well expresses it) by “birth-sin.” —Hence that celebrated saying, so usual among the Greek philosophers, sumfuton anthropois to hamartanein, i.e. moral evil is implanted in men from the first moment of their existence. Plato goes still farther in his treatise “De Legibus:” and directly affirms that man, if not well and carefully cultivated, is zowon agriotaton hoasa fuei gay, the wildest and most savage of all animals. Aristotle asserts the same truth, and almost in the same words with Plato. The very poets asserted the doctrine of human corruption. So Propertius: Unicitique dedit vitiam natura creato; i.e. “Nature has infused vice into every created being.” And Horace observes, “that youth is cerens in vitium flecti;” or, “admits the impressions of evil, with all the ease and readiness of yielding wax.” —And why? Let the same poet inform us. Nemo titiis sine nascitur: “The seeds of vice are innate in every man.”
Whence proceed errors in judgment and immoralities in practice? Evil tempers, evil desires, and evil words? Why is the real gospel preached by so few ministers, and opposed by so many people? Wherefore is it that the virtues have so generally took their flight? that
———Fugere pudor, verumque, fidesque; In quorum subiere locum fraudesque, dolique, Insidiaque, et vis, et amor sceleratus habendi?
Original sin answers all these questions in a moment. Adam’s offence was the peccatum peccans (as I think St. Austin nervously calls it), the sin that still goes on sinning in all mankind: or, to use the just and emphatic words of Calvin (Institut. 1. iv. c. 15.) Haec perversitas nunquam in nobis cessat, sed novos assidue fructus parit ; non secue atque incensa fornax flammam et scintillas perpetuo efflat, aut scaturigo aquam sine fine egerit: “The corruption of our nature is always operative, and constantly teeming with unholy fruits: like a heated furnace which is perpetually blazing out; or like an inexhaustible spring of water, which is for ever bubbling up and sending forth its rills.”
So terrible a calamity as the universal infection of our whole species is and must have been the consequence of some grand and primary transgression. Such a capital punishment would never have been inflicted on the human race, by the God of infinite Justice, but for some adequate preceding offence. It is undeniably certain that we who are now living are in actual possession of an evil nature; which nature we brought with us into the world; it is not of our own acquiring, but was
Cast and mingled with our very frame;
Grew with our growth, and strengthened with our strength.”
We were, therefore, in a state of severe moral punishment as soon as we began to be. And yet it was impossible for us to have sinned, in our own persons, antecedently to our actual existence.
This reflection leads up our enquiry to that doctrine which alone can solve the (otherwise insuperable) difficulty now started, viz. to that doctrine which ‘asserts the imputation of Adam’s disobedience to all his offspring. And which is, I. founded on Scripture evidence; and II. adopted by the Church of England; and III. not contrary to human reason. I will just touch on these three particulars.
- God’s word expressly declares that By the disobedience of one man many were constituted sinners; Rom. v. 19. They are in the divine estimation considered as guilty of Adam’s own personal breach of the prohibitory command. Now the judgment of God is always according to truth. Ile would not deem us guilty unless we were so. And guilty of our first parent’s offence we cannot be, but in a way of imputation.
By the offence of one [di enos paraptowmatos, by one transgression], judgment came upon all men, unto condemnation; Rom. v. 18. which could not be unless that one transgression was placed to our account.
By one man, sin entered into the world and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Rom. v. 12. Yea, death reigned, and still continues to reign, even over them that bad not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression: v. 14. Infants are here designed by the apostle: who have not sinned actually and in their own persons as Adam did, and yet are liable to temporal death. Wherefore, then, do they die? Is not death - the wages of sin? Most certainly. And seeing it is incontestibly clear that not any individual among the numberless millions who have died in infancy was capable of committing actual sin; it follows that they sinned representatively and implicitly in Adam. Else they would not be entitled to that death which is the wages of sin, and to those diseases by which their death is occasioned, and to that pain which most of them experience in dying. A majority of the human race are supposed to die under the age of seven years. A phenomenon, which we should never see, under the administration of a just and gracious God, if the young persons so dying had not been virtually comprehended in the person of Adam when he fell, and if the guilt of his fall was not imputed to them. Nothing but the imputation of that can ever be able to account for the death of infants, any more than for the vitiosity, the manifold sufferings, the imperfections, and the death of men.
II. This is the doctrine of the Church of England. “We were cast into miserable captivity by breaking of God’s commandment in our first parent Adam.” (Second Homily on the Misery of Man.)
“Original sin is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man.” (Article IX.) The corruption, or defilement, is our’s by inherency: we ourselves are the seat of it. But original sin can be our fault only by imputation, and in no other possible way.
“Dearly beloved, ye have prayed that our Lord Jesus Christ would vouchsafe to release [this child] of his sins.” (Baptismal office). In the estimation, therefore, of our Church, every infant is not only chargeable with sin in the singular number; but with sins in the plural. To wit, with intrinsic defilement as the subject of an unholy nature and with the imputed guilt of the first man’s apostacy from God.
III. There is nothing contrary in all this to human reason, and to the usual practice of men.
There is not a single nobleman, or person of property, who does not act, or who has not acted, as the covenant-head of his posterity; supposing him to have any.
Even a lease of lives signed by a legal freeholder; and sometimes the total alienation of an estate for ever, are binding on (perhaps the unborn) heirs and successors of the person who grants the lease, or signs away the property.
A person of quality commits high treason. For this, he not only forfeits his own life, but also his blood (i.e. his family) is tainted in law, and all his titles and possessions are forfeited from his descendants. His children and their children to the end of the chapter lose their peerage and lose their lands, though the father only was (we will suppose) in fault.
Thus the honours and estates of all the heirs in England are suspended on the single loyalty of each present possessor respectively!
Where, then, is the unreasonableness of the imputation of Adam’s crime? Why might not the welfare and the rectitude of all his posterity be suspended on the single thread of his integrity? And what becomes of the empty cavils that are let off against those portions of holy writ which assure us that in Adam all die?
But wherein did Adam’s primary sin consist? Of what nature was that offence, which
“Brought death into the world, and all our woe?”
The scholastic writers, whose distinctions are frequently much too subtle, and sometimes quite insignificant, seem to have hit the mark of this enquiry with singular skill and exactness.
They very properly distinguish original sin, into what they call peccatum originans, and peccatum originatum.
By peccatum originans they mean the ipsissimum, or the very act itself, of Adam’s offence in tasting the forbidden fruit.
By peccatum originatum they mean that act considered as transmitted to us. Which transmission includes its imputation to us, in point of guilt; and that internal hereditary pollution which has vitiated every facility of man from that moment to this. With regard to the latter, a very slight acquaintance with ourselves must convince us that we have it. And as for the former [viz. the article of imputation], it could not have taken place, if Adam had not sustained our persons, and stood or fallen as our legal representative.
Consider original sin as resident in us, and it is very justly defined by our Church to be that corrupt bias, “whereby man is very far gone [quam longissime distet, is removed to the greatest distance possible] from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil; so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit.” (Art, IX). Upon which definition the life of every man is, more or less, a practical comment.
But, Honos erit huic quoque pomo. Many, and of the utmost importance, are the consequences deducible from this great Scripture doctrine. I shall briefly point out a few.
We learn hence that which the antient heathens in vain attempted to discover; viz. the door by which natural evil (as sickness, afflictions, sorrow, pain, death) entered into the world: namely the sin of Adam. Though the reasons why God permitted Adam to sin are as deeply in the dark as ever; what we do know of God entitles him surely to this small tribute at our hands, viz. that we repose our faith, with an absolute, an implicit, and an unlimited acquiescence, on his unerring wisdom and will: safely confident that what such a Being ordains and permits, is and must be right; however incapable we may find ourselves, at present, to discern and comprehend the full propriety of his moral government.
Hence, too, we learn the infinite freeness, and the unspeakable preciousness, of his electing love. Why were any chosen, when all might justly have been passed by? Because he was resolved, for his own name’s sake, to make known the riches of his glory, t. e. of his glorious grace, on the vessels of mercy, whom he therefore prepared unto glory.
Let this, O believer, humble you under the mighty hand of God: and convince you, with deeper impression than if ten thousand angels were to preach it from heaven, that election is not of works, but of him that calleth. Not your merit, but his unmerited mercy, mercy irrespective of either your good works or your bad ones, induced him to write your name in the Lamb’s book of fife.
So totally are we fallen by nature, that we cannot contribute any thing towards our recovery. Hence it was God’s own arm which brought salvation. It is he that makes us his people, and the sheep of his pasture; not we ourselves. The Church says truly, when she declares that “We are by nature the children of God’s wrath: but we are not able to make ourselves the children and inheritors of God’s glory. We are sheep that run astray, but we cannot of our own power come again to the sheep-fold. —We have neither faith, charity, hope, patience, nor any thing else that good is, but of God. These virtues be the fruits of the Holy Ghost, and not the fruits of man.-We cannot think a good thought of ourselves: much less can we say well, or do well of ourselves,” (Hom. on the misery of man). We are, in short, what the Scripture affirms us to be, naturally dead in trespasses and sins: and no dead man can make himself to differ from another. Conversion is a new birth, a resurrection, a new creation. What infant ever begat himself? What inanimate carcase ever quickened and raised itself? What creature ever created itself?
Boast not then of your freewill: for it is like what the prophet saith of Nineveh, empty, and void, and waste. They that feel not this, resemble delirious persons in a high fever: who imagine that nothing ails them, while in fact they are at the very gates of death. Nay, mankind in their native state are more than at the gates of death. The traveller, in the parable, who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, is said to have been left half-dead: but the degenerate sons of Adam are, spiritually speaking, stark-dead to God. An unrenewed man has not one spiritual sense left: no hearing of the promises; no sight of his own misery, nor of God’s holiness, nor of the perfect purity of the law, nor of Christ as an absolute Saviour, nor of the blessed Spirit as the revealer of Christ in the heart; no taste of the Father’s everlasting love, nor of communion with him through the ministration of the Holy Ghost; no feeling of grace in a way of conviction, comfort, and sanctification; no hungerings and thirstings after spiritual enjoyments and sweet assurances; no motive tendencies, no outgoings of soul after the blood, righteousness, and intercession of Jesus Christ. If we experience these, they are indications of spiritual life: and we may take those reviving words to ourselves, Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.
Beg the Lord to shew you the depth of your fall. Free grace, finished salvation, imputed righteousness, atoning blood, unchangeable mercy, and the whole chain of evangelical blessings, will then be infinitely precious to your heart.
Prize the covenant of redemption, which is a better covenant and founded upon better promises than that which Adam broke. The covenant of works said “Do, and live: sin, and die.” The covenant of grace says, “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” The covenant of works insisted on a perfection of personal obedience: the covenant of grace provided and accepts the perfect atonement and righteousness of Christ as ours.
This shews both the folly and wickedness of depending on our own works for salvation. Which soul-destroying delusion is founded on ignorance that the covenant of works was broken and annulled the very moment Adam fell. I mean annulled, as to any possibility of salvation by it: else it is still in full force as the ministration of condemnation and death to every soul that finally clings to it for pardon and eternal life. Man, unfallen, might have been saved by works. But there is no deliverance for fallen man, except by the free grace of the Father, and the imputed righteousness of a sacrificed Redeemer. -Therefore,
Let the sense of our original depravation, of our continued vileness, and the impossibility of our being saved in a legal way, induce us to prize the blood, obedience, and intercession of Jesus, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. This is the inference drawn by the apostle himself from the doctrine I have been asserting. Therefore, says he, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men [even upon all the elect themselves] unto condemnation; so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men [upon all the elect, believing world] unto justification of life: for as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Rom. v. 18, 19. —And elsewhere St. Paul reasons in the same manner: All [i.e. all God’s elect, no less than others] have sinned and come short of the glory of God. What is the consequence? It is immediately added, being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. Rom. iii. 23, 24.
Hence likewise appear the necessity and value of effectual calling. Why does our Lord say, that except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God? Because we are totally sinful and corrupt by nature: as unfit for, and as incapable of, enjoying the glories of the celestial world, as a beetle is of being elevated to the dignity and office of a first minister of state.
Since such is the natural condition of man with regard to spiritual things; take heed that you do not look upon election, justification, redemption, and regeneration, as mere technical terms, belonging to divinity as a system, or science. They are infinitely more. These and such- like terms are expressive of the greatest and most important realities: without the experience of which, we are condemned, ruined, lost.
The doctrine of original sin is the basis of the millennium. The earth, which is disordered and put out of course through the offence of man, will be restored to its primitive beauty, purity, and regularity, when Jesus shall descend to reign in person with his saints. 2 Pet. iii. 13.
Original sin accounts for the remaining imperfections, too visible in them that are born of God. The brightest saints below ever had, and ever will have, their darksides. Abraham, Noah, Job, David, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Paul, Peter, John, were sanctified but in part. On earth, God’s converted people are each a compound of light and shades. In glory we shall be all light, without any mixture of shade whatever.
Since the earth and its inhabiters are degenerated from their original state, let not believers be afraid to die.
“Death has no pang, but what frail life imparts;
Nor life true joy, but what kind death improves.”
By quitting its mortal cage, the heaven-born soul is delivered from all its sins and cares and pains; and kindles into perfection of holiness and majesty and joy. At the appointed time the body too will partake of complete redemption; and be delivered, totally and eternally delivered into the glorious liberty and dignity of the children of God. —Accomplish, Lord, the number of thine elect, and hasten thy kingdom!