Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

EFFECTS OF THE FALL OF MAN. 209

a direct transgression of the revealed will of God, he fell from his pristine state of innocence and happiness, became prone to sin, and instead of being any longer by nature the heir of immortal happiness, was subjected to the sentence of eternal death. "The soul that sinneth it shall die:" Ezek. xviii, 20.

Now. the Scriptures teach us, that the fall of our first parents from a condition of natural righteousness to one of natural sinfulness,—from a condition in which he was the heir of the blessing, to one in which he was the subject of the curse,—was the immediate cause of a moral degeneracy, and therefore of a punishable guilt, in the whole family of his descendants. The apostle expressly states the doctrine, that "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned"—that "through the offence of one many are dead"—that "the judgment was by one to condemnation"—that" by one man's offence death reigned by one"—that " by one mans disobedience many were made sinners"—that "in Adam all die:" Rom. v, 12 —19; I Cor. xv, 22.

As the Scriptures alone trace the moral degradation of our species to the event out of which it arose, so are they distinguished by the peculiar force and precision with which they describe that moral degradation, and uphold it to view as a characteristic of the human race. For the whole system of scriptural religion is grounded on a truth which never found a place in moral philosophy of human origin—that man is by nature fallen and depraved, and can be saved from the consequences of sin only by divine mercy, and from its power ohly by divine grace. Often, indeed, do the sacred writers expatiate on the character of the 210 CORRUPTION OF THE HEART.

righteous; and these are they who have renounced all dependance on themselves, and who are "kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation: but the question now to be considered, is this: What is the account given to us in the Sacred Volume of man without grace—of man in his natural and unregenerate condition?

1. In answer to this inquiry, it may be remarked, in the first place, that the sacred writers declare the heart of man to be evil in itself, or, in other words, to be so deeply infected with an evil principle, as naturally to produce the fruit of sin. Soon after the prophet Jeremiah had described the " sin of Judah," as " written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond," he was led to point out the true source of the transgressions which he thus lamented; and that source was to be found, not in the peculiar circumstances of that favoured people, but in the nature of the whole species to which they belonged. "The heart" says the prophet, "is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (or, as in the Hebrew, desperately diseased3); who can know it?" xvii, 1. 9. "Yea, also," says Solomon, in perfect accordance with the testimony of Jeremiah, "the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead:" Eccl. ix, 3.

When David prayed God to create in him "a clean heart " when he cried out, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow"—he was sensible not only of his actual transgressions, but of that natural corruption from which they spring. "Behold," said he, "I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me!"

8 tyiJK- *"fe J"'3 xxxiv, 6; Jer. xxx, 12, 15; and Taylor's Cone. in voc.

SPIRITUAL DARKNESS 211

Ps. Ii, 5. 7, &c. Nor can it be denied, that this natural corruption of our inward part was indirectly adverted to by our Saviour himself, when he promulgated the doctrine, that a man is defiled, not by that which "goeth into the mouth," but by that which "cometh out of the mouth;" because "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:" Matt. xv, 11. 19.

The struggles of our evil nature, which continue to be felt even after we have been awakened to a sense of divine truth, are described by the apostle Paul in the language of painful experience: "I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!" Rom. vii, 21—24. Soon afterwards, he describes the disposition of man to evil as the "carnal mind" which "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," (viii, 7;) and the diseased nature in which this disposition dwells, he elsewhere denominates " the flesh." "For the flesh," says he, " lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary, the one to the other:" Gal. v, 17; comp. v, 19—21.

2. Man, in his natural condition of degradation from original virtue, is, in the second place,/often represented by the sacred writers as the child of ignorance, misled by his own false notions of wisdom, and utterly incapable in himself of rightly apprehending divine truth. "The light shineth in darkness," says

212 AND IGNORANCE.

the apostle John, " and the darkness comprehended it not" (John i, 5;) a doctrine which corresponds with the declaration of Paul, that " the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned:" I Cor. ii, 14. On the other hand, although we may construct many plausible systems of morality, gratifying to our pride, yet the "wisdom of this world" is "foolishness with God:" I Cor. iii, 18—20. "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death:" Prov. xiv, 12. In short, unregenerate men are " darkness:" they are sitting "in darkness, and in the shadow of death;" (Luke i, 79;) they are under the "power of darkness:" Col. i, 13. "The rulers of the darkness of this world" (Eph. vi, 12) are their governors. Their king is the " prince of the power of the air;" (Eph. ii, 2;) and the god of this world has "blinded" their eyes, " lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them:" II Cor. iv, 4.

3. Being thus prone to evil, and destitute of a right apprehension of divine things, mankind in their fallen nature are "dead in trespasses and sins;" (Eph. ii, 1;) they are universally sinners. "If we say, that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us:" I John i, 8. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God:" Rom. iii, 23. "God made man upright," says Solomon, "but they have sought out many inventions:" Eccles. vii, 29. And if we would understand the moral character of these inventions, we may consult the apostle Paul, who thus describes, in glowing and comprehensive language, "the whole world" which " lieth in wickedness"

UNIVERSAL SINFULNESS

213

I John v, 19. "What then, are we (the Jews) better than they (the Gentiles)? No, in no wise; for 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 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. Now 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:" Rom. iii, 9—19. The doctrine of Scripture respecting the wickedness of mankind, is powerfully confirmed by the records contained in it of their history—a history which affords astonishing evidences of a strong, determined, natural, bent towards moral evil. What was the character of the antediluvians, to whom was communicated the original revelation of the divine will? We read, that God beheld them, and "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:" Gen. vi, 5. With the exception of a single family, the whole of one generation of mankind was destroyed by the deluge; and the earth was again peopled by a new race, of which the sons of Noah were the progenitors. But the bias of human nature was unaltered. The descendants of Noah sunk by

« EdellinenJatka »