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sent his Son into the world, that the world through him might be saved.”
In accordance with these declarations of scripture, the primitive church in the three first centuries maintained that original sin merely transmitted a disposition and tendency to evil, and rendered us obnoxious to the miseries of this life; but that actual sin only exposed the impeni. tent and unbelievers to condemnation in the life to come. And this is agreeable to the dictates of reason and equity; the opposite opinion is abhorrent to every notion of justice and benignity-For, that one rational creature should be rendered eternally miserable for the action of another, in which he had no share, and which he could not prevent, is an event which cannot take place under the government of a being who treats his creatures according to their respective characters. Justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne, mercy and truth continually go before his face. But where would be his justice, if infants who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, were doomed to perdition merely because they are his descendants ? Where would be that tender mercy which is over all his works, if he did not receive into his favour the child of innocence, whose heart never meditated mischief, whose lips never uttered deceit? Surely “of such are the kingdom of heaven”: surely “their angels behold the face of their Father who is in heaven." Original sin, whatever moral impurity it may communicate to the soul, is washed away in the blood of Christ, who was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. For God foreseeing the fall of Adam, and the misery to which mankind would be thereby exposed, determined to send his Son to redeem them; so that an effectual remedy has been provided against that eternal punishment to which we might have otherwise been liable. No man therefore is subject to the divine indignation, nor to the pains of hell, by original sin, since that is expiated by the atonement of that Saviour who gave his life a ransom for all. For saith an apostle, “God hath not appointed us
“ to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
But though we are thus rescued from perdition on account of the imputation of Adam's sin, we are still obnoxious to the miseries of a future state, if we contract habits of impenitent transgression. We may, by conti. nuing in a course of irreligious conduct and vicious indulgences, treasure up to ourselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgments of God, who will render to every man according to his works; to those who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, he will render eternal life; but to those who are contentious and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, he will render indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil. At the great day of the Lord, when the judgment is set, and the books are opened, it will appear that none are condemned for original sin, but for actual transgression; and that the Judge will doom them to destruction, because they have been workers of iniquity. Let us all there- . fore return from the error of our ways, to the wisdom and obedience of the just, so shall iniquity not be our ruin.
Having thus endeavoured to discuss in detail the several propositions contained in the text, I proceed,
IV. To the application of the subject.
From the doctrine of original sin we may learn many important lessons.
1. It should teach us humility, as we are thereby fal. len and guilty creatures. We have now lost that rectitude of nature, which dignified the characters of our first parents in a state of innocence. Our souls are corrupted, and our faculties perverted, so that “in us dwelleth no good thing.” We have indeed a perception of right and wrong, and our conscience dictates to us our duty with sufficient plainness; but, alas! our wills are averse to the performance of those obligations incumbent on us as rational, religious, and accountable beings. We have the scriptures of truth which are able to make us wise unto salvation, but we have within us “ a carnal mind which is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” We have
powerful motives proposed in the gospel for exciting our obedience, and deterring us from sin; no less than everlasting happiness, or eternal misery ; but such is the perversity of our nature, such the insensibility of our hearts, that we consider not the things which belong to our peace, before they are hid from our eyes. We know and perceive that the ways of religion are ways of pleasantness, and the paths of wickedness lead to destruction ; yet we continue careless of these consequences, and addicted to many sins both of the flesh and of the spirit; so that we have reason to say,
“ () wretched men that we are ! who shall deliver us from the body of this death?” We all have reason to deplore our degeneracy and perverse inclinations, and to humble ourselves in the dust, saying, “ God be merciful to us sinners." We must all be con. scious, that by our impotence and inability to perform our duty, we cannot work out our salvation by a perfect obedience to the law of God, and therefore cannot claim acceptance with him" by works of righteousness which we can do; and that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
2. The doctrine of original sin is calculated to prepare us for receiving the offers of salvation made to us in the gospel, through our Lord Jesus Christ. When we are persuaded that sinfulness and corruption cleave to our nature; that we are constantly violating the law of God, in thought, word, and deed; and that if God should mark iniquity against us we could not stand, nor answer him for one of a thousand of our transgressions; we shall renounce all hope of establishing our own righteousness, and submit ourselves more readily to that righteousness of our Redeemer, which is appointed as the means of our restoration to the divine favour. We shall then perceive, that though we have transgressed the commandments of God, yet Christ hath magnified the law, and made it honourable; and that as God has been pleased to accept of his perfect obedience performed in our behalf, therefore it becomes us to lay hold on this hope set before us in the gospel, and “ to believe in him to the saving of the soul.”Let us, then, receive the offer of pardon, justification, and
salvation, as the gift of God procured for us through Jesus Christ our Lord.
3. But while we acknowledge that the blessings of the gospel are entirely of grace, and not of works, lest any man should boast; let us also consider, that as original sin is inherent in our nature, we should be constantly watching against its predominating influence in our hearts and lives. Though we cannot now claim salvation by our imperfect obedience; though “ Christ is become the author of salvation to all those who obey him;" yet we are still required “ to put off the old man with his deeds, which are corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” We are still required cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord, that we may attain as the end of our faith the salvation of our souls.” And good reason have we to stir up all our energies in resisting sin, since it is so congenial to our natures, and so ready on all occasions to prevail against us. Let us consider, that we are prone to evil by the very constitution of our minds, and therefore we should watch and pray that we enter not into temptation, knowing that though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.”
4. Finally, as all mankind are sinful and perverted, let us endeavour to exert ourselves, as far as our ability and opportunity extend, to reclaim others from the error of their ways, and to build them up through faith unto salvation. Let us take an interest in promoting the spiritual welfare of our fellow-creatures, by advice, reproof, correction, or instruction in righteousness, and thus we shall save their souls from death, and cover a multitude of sins. If we thus improve our natures, (perverted as they are,) in personal holiness, and in social virtue, we shall at last be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.
1 TIM. I. 15. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
No sooner had man fallen from his integrity, than a Saviour was provided for restoring him again to the divine favour. That the scheme of our redemption by Jesus Christ is founded upon the state of misery in which we were involved by original sin, will appear by considering, that if we were still as upright as when God created us very good, there would have been no necessity for that dispensation of mercy revealed in the gospel. For it would be absurd to suppose, that Christ came to redeem us from the condition in which we had proceeded from the hands of our Creator. The angels in heaven who have preserved their integrity, are now as perfect as they ever were, and therefore no Saviour is provided for them: hence it may be presumed that if man also had continued in the possession of primeval innocence, he would thereby have secured the loving kindness of God in this life, and everlasting happiness in the life to come. But, as we are now degenerate in our nature, and wicked in our practice, we are thereby obnoxious to the divine displeasure, and exposed to “ everlasting destruction from the
“ presence of the Lord and the glory of his power.”
Yet as God was not willing that we should perish, he determined to establish another plan of administration for