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testimony of revelation, are the most unsatisfying and unedifying. They have reasoned and reasoned tilĩ they have lost themselves in their own foolish devices, because they would not receive the simple account of the Scriptures, " that God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.” It is this that accounts for all the obliquites which we observe in the moral world. God made man in his own image; man, by sin, lost that image; sons are now born to him in his own likeness; that likeness is sinful; and thus we have a key to all the follies and extravagancies, and sins.which he manifests. It is this that accounts also for the derangements of the natural world. The ground was cursed, by reason of man's sin. Gen. 3. 17, 18. The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain for the same cause.—Rom. viii. 22. Sin brought death into the world, and all, our woe- -all the unhappiness of man, and all the wretchedness endured by the inferior creation. , Such was the issue of man's probation. We proceed, therefore, to consider
III.—The present condition of man. This is a very extensive branch of the subject, but we must treat it briefly. We shall arrange the testimony of the Scriptures respect. ing it under three particulars-The penalty-annexed to the law of God and incurred by the sinner-the moral change that has taken place in his character-and the outward expression of that change in the sinfulness of the life.
1. The penalty annexed to the law was death. This is to be understood of temporal, spiritual, and eternal death. Temporal death is the dissolution of the connexion between soul and body. And that this originated in sin, it requires little evidence to prove. This was part of the judgment pronounced on man when he became a sinner, “ dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.”Gen. iii. 19. And the Apostle Paul teaches us " the wages of sin is death.”-Rom. vi, 23. In this part of the sen. tence there are supposed to be guilt, condemnation, and punishment. The sinner, is guilty, for he has broken the law of God; he is condemned, for the law is holy, and cannot but pass sentence on the guilty ; and he is the sub ject of punishment, for the law giver is just and righteous and cannot but visit the offender with his deserved displeasure. Again, spiritual death is the dissolution of the soul's connexion with the principles of truth and righteousness. In the Scriptures, the sinner is uniformly described
of a the powers
as dead in the sight of God.-Eph. ii. 1. Nor can any thing be more just than this representation. For what is the characteristic feature of a body in the state of death? Is it not that while it appears to possess living man, these are incapable of performing the functions of life. It has eyes, but they see not; ears, but they hear not; a tongue, but it speaks not; feet, but they walk not; and hands, but they handle not. Just so then is it with the sinner dead in trespasses, He has eyes but they see not God in the works of his hands around him; ears, but they hear not his voice in the loud dispensations of his providence; a tongue, but it speaks not his maker's praise ; feet, but they walk not in God's commandments; and hands, but they are not active to do bis will. Thus the sinner is dead in the sight and service of God. And as the body, from which the spirit has fled, becomes corrupt and putrid ; so, in the spiritual death of the soul, there is not merely inaction, but moral corruption and pollution. What is man that he should be clean ? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous ? “How abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water ?”—Job, xv. 14. 16. The end of spiritual death and its consummation is eternal death. This implies all the misery naturally arising out of the sinfulness of man, visited by the judgment of God. We have sometimes seen what wretchedness may hence arise even upon earth. And we may thus form some idea of the misery which they are calculated to produce in another world, where they will be allowed to operate without mea sure or restraint. How fearful the emphasis of our Lord's words, where three times he speaks in almost the same breath, “ where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched- where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched-where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.”—Mark, ix. 44. 46. 48. This is the bitterness of the second death. And this is the penalty to which man has been subjected by the violation of the law of God-death temporal, spiritual, and eternal.
2. The moral change that has taken place in the character of man, is fully in accordance with his state of guiltiness and condemnation. It has affected the whole man, both his intellectual powers and moral principles. The understanding, the judgment, the will, the affections, have all been injured and corrupted. How emphatic the language of the Scriptures ! “Having the understand. ing darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hearts.”-Eph. iv. 18. “ The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither, indeed, can be.”-Rom. viii. 7. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”—Jer. xvii. 9. “And the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyiugs, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” Gal. v. 19. 21. It would be impossible to use language more strongly descriptive of a state of depravity and pollution. Compar. ing the present with the original condition of man, we may well exclaim—“How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed ?"-Sam. iv. l. Once man was near to God, now he is far off ; once he enjoyed the light of his countenance, now he is conscious of deserving the divine displeasure ; once he was pure and upright, now he is polluted and depraved. This is the testimony of the Scriptures, and it is confirmed by our experience and observation.
3. The moral change that has passed upon man is ex-" pressed in the outward sinfulness of his life. Whether he is viewed as an individual, in the ordinary walks of life, or considered in the relations of the family, of society, or of the world, his characteristic feature is that of a sinner. The view which he exhibits in the market-place, with its profanity and dishonesty; in the battle-field, with its carnage and plunder; and in the intercourse of nation with nation, in its duplicity, treachery, and oppression; is a comment upon the depravity of his character, known and read of all men. The inspired description of man, in Rom. iii. 10–18, is an exact delineation of his character and conduct, in all cases, where human nature is left unrestrained to bear its natural fruit. “There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that 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 tougues 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.”
Such is the condition of men, of all men, by nature and practice. It is humbling to contemplate it, but it is well to know the truth. And we are hereby prepared for the fourth and last consideration.
IV.--The present necessities of man. He is a sinner; and, from wbat we have seen to be implied in that name, he stands in need of pardon, justification, regeneration, and a sustaining divine influence throughout the entire sourse of his life. It is going somewhat beyond our present subject to consider the provision of the Gospel to meet these necessities, yet we cannot close without alluding to it.
1. The sinner needs pardon. The very first idea we attach to him is that of guiltiness; that is a debt which he is unable to pay; he must therefore' come unto God with the petition, “ forgive us our debts,” and sue for a free remission of guilt. This is the first blessing the sin. ner needs; and until it is obtained, he cannot move a step in the favour of God. - His situation is that of a criminal, imprisoned for delinquency, who cannot move from his prison-house, or walk at liberty, till an act of remission is passed. With what thankfulness, then, should he hear ibose blessed announcements, “there is forgiveness with tbee, that thou mayest be feared.”—Psal. cxxx. 4. “ Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”. Isa. i. 18.' “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins."-Eph. i. 7. claimed pardon, full, free, and gracious, to all who are willing to accept it,
2. The sinner needs justification. This is more than pardon, it includes acceptance. It is a blessing which a sinner can enjoy only through the mediation of another. No repentance for past sins will obtain it, nor will future obedience purchase it. “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh he justified in the sight of God.”-Rom. iii. 20. Perfect obedience alone can justify. How suited, then, the provision of the Gospel, in the righteousness of Christ, to this want of the sinner. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made
Here is pro
the righteousness of God in him." --2 Cor. v. 21. · Know. ing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."--Gal. ii. 16.
3. The sinner needs regeneration. Justification affects his state, regeneration his character. It means an entire change of views, principles, feelings, and actions. No change, less radical or complete, would meet the necessity of the case. Nothing short of this will fit the sinner 10 be a member of the kingdom of Christ on earth or in heaven. Such, however, is the nature of the Gospel dispensation, that regeneration is necessarily connected with justification. It is faith that justifies, by laying hold of the righteousness of Christ; but at the same time it renews and sanctities, for it enlightens the mind, subdues. the will, overcomes the world, and works by love. Hence the promises of regeneration are as abundant in the Scriptures as those of justification. “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you.”Ezek. xxxvi. 25. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord ; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.”—Heb. viii. 10. “If any man be'in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; belrold all things are become new." --2 Cor. v. 17.
4 The sinner needs a sustaining, divine influence throughout the whole course of his life. What he becomes, by the grace of God, he must be kept by the same agency. So Christ taught his disciples. * Abide in me and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me."-John, xv. 4. And how free and gracious are the promises of divine aid ? • My grace is sufficient for thee.”--2 Cor. 12. 9. “ Saints are kept by the mighty power of God.”—1 Pet. i. 5 Hence may the Christian triumph with the Apostle, saying, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”-Rom. viii. 38, 39.