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species of being a happiness suited to its capacity: in man especially, he beheld his own image illustriously shining, knowledge and righteousness and holiness; he saw his various powers
of body and mind perfectly harmonising in their Maker's praise : man, on the other hand, beheld in Jehovah a friend and father; felt the most refined, elevated joy in his communion, and contemplated all his perfections co-operating for his welfare. But this communion is suddenly suspended; the former smiles of his Creator are now succeeded by fearful evidences of his wrath, and the mournful reason is assigned in our text, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Sin is defined in our shorter catechism, to eonsist in “ any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God.” Such also is the definition given by an inspired evangelist, “whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth the law, for sin is a transgression of the law.” The original word translated sin literally signifies a departure from some rule that is prescribed ; a deviation from a particular line that is drawn, or from any mark at which we are aiming. Sin may therefore be considered as a violation of the divine law, either by omission or coinmission; a departure from this eternal standard of righteousness, either by neglecting to perform what it requires, or committing what it actually forbids.
It is our present design, with an humble reliance on divine aid, to establish the doctrine of universal apostacy from the living God; to prove as the apostle asserts, that “all have sinned and come short of his glory.
And while we attempt, in the language of the Holy Ghost, to confirm this truth, may our consciences, under his powerful influences, be deeply convinced of sin ; may we all be enabled to realize its dangerous and ruining consequences.
The truth of the proposition, that “all have sinned,” is obvious,
1. From the explicit and repeated declarations of scripture : it is written as with sun-beams in almost every page of revelation, and in almost every line of every page. To repeat all the passages which tend to establish this fundainental, yet humiliating article of our religion, would be to repeat a great part of this heavenly record. One inspired writer testifies, “and God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth.” It demands our consideration, that it was not the wickedness of one man which Jehovah is represented as beholding, nor the impiety of a particular kindred or nation, but of mankind, of human nature ; the whole mass was corrupted, every individual of every nation was sinitten with the deadly contagion ; the whole head was sick, and the whole heart was faint : “and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Language cannot
possibly be more explicit to express the corruption of mankind in general, the exceeding, desperate depravity of each individual, “ every imagination of the thought of his heart was evil, only evil” to the utter exclusion of all that is morally or spiritually good; evil continually; through the powerful influence, the unlimited reign of impiety, there was not the interval of a moment for serious reflection or spiritual exercises. Again, “God looked upon the earth and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” The Lord is represented, by another infallible witness, as “looking down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand and seek God;" to ascertain if there was an individual among the numerous offspring of Adam who retained his integrity and sought after God his Creator; and what was the result of his enquiry? It was equally mournful and humiliating. “ They are all gone aside,” is the divine testimony; “they are altogether became filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not
But this general apostacy was not peculiar to the age of the patriarchs or the prophets; the same charge is renewed hundreds ci years afterwards, although men had enjoyed all the advantages of civilized life, and a written revelation from God. An inspired apostle declares, “we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles that they are all under sin.” This passage is peculiarly forcible for establishing the doctrine of universal corruption, and is entitled to some examination. The Jews were the posterity of Abraham; a people in covenant with Jehovah and the peculiar favorites of heaven ; exalted above all others by “the adoption, and the glory, and the service of God, and the promises ;” the Gentiles were the rest of the nations; all not immediately included within the pale of the Jewish church: The apostle boldly maintains that no nation was exempted from the general charge ; that whether they were Jews, a people who had been favored with such frequent and clear manifestations of the divine will, who had received a system of worship prescribed by God himself ; or whether they were Gentiles, given up to the dictates of their * own blinded understandings, and involved in the absurdities of a gross idolatry, “they were all under sin, and guilty before God.” He afterwards brings home the indictment to the conscience of every individual, in the words of an Old Testament prophet, “there is none righteous, no, not one; 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, and the way of peace they have not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes: now we know that whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, aud all the world may become guilty before God.”_Were it thought necessary, innumerable other passages of scripture might be adduced for the confirmation of this doctrine. One asserts, “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not: Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions :” Another acknowledges, “if thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand : in thy sight shall no man living be justified.”
2. The doctrine that all have sinned is evident from the experience of all. No one who impartially examines his own heart, will dare to assert, “I am clean, without transgression; I am innocent ; neither is there iniquity with me.” Have we upon all occasions followed the dictates of our own consciences; performing whatever the light of nature proclaimed to be right? Have we conducted towards others amidst all circumstances, as we thought they should have conducted towards us amidst the same circumstances? Have we upon all occasions performed our duty to our great Creator, giving him that share of our affections and our services, to which he is most reasonably entitled? Have we really loved him with all our heart, our soul, our mind and strength, as he has required in the first commandinent ? Have we cordially received and observed such religious worship and ordinances, as