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concluded all under sin. Instead of being justified by the law of Moses, mankind were condemned by it; because they fell short of obedience to its righteous requirements. It was however not intended that they should be left in this state of sin and condemnation ; but that they should be led, under a sense of their failure in obedience to the law of God, to humble themselves before Him, and confess their transgressions with grief and repentance at His footstool, and implore pardoning mercy in the way which He had pointed out under the Christian dispensation, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
Let us consider more particularly the two subjects which the text presents to our view. It is
First, The scripture hath concluded all under sin. This is an awful fact, a fact which is calculated to fill us all with alarm, since the same scriptures also declare that the wages of sin is death.66 On this subject the apostle says to the Romans, We have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin. He had proved it from matter of fact; and then shows that the scripture agreed with what he had stated, 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.66 Such is the testimony of Divine revelation, not in one part only, but throughout the holy scriptures from the beginning to the end. And this testimony is confirmed by universal experience in all ages. The abounding of iniquity in the world has always been a subject of lamentation. Even the heathen writers are full of complaints of the evils which were practised among themselves. The state of mankind still continues to be the same. The dark places of the earth, which are not enlightened with the knowledge of Divine truth, are full of the habitations of cruelty67 and wickedness of every description. And even where its light shines with the greatest splendour, sin in various forms is not ashamed to lift
its head with unblushing effrontery. Highly favoured as we are with religious privileges, and with having the word of God committed to our trust, yet how awfully does iniquity abound in our land. And notwithstanding our religious profession, have we not reason to abase ourselves before God, as individuals, because of the encouragement which we are disposed to give to evil thoughts and desires in our own hearts, even if the effect of them be not manifest in our conduct? It is a humiliating reflection that all are under sin ; that sin extends its influence over the whole human race; that the whole world lieth in wickedness. 68
66 Rom. vi. 23; ji. 9-12.
67 Ps. lxxiv. 20.
68 1 John v. 19.
None are exempt from the charge of being sinners against God. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.69 With what deep self-abasement does it become us, each for himself, to lay to heart this humiliating truth of the holy scriptures. Let not any presume to think lightly of sin because of its universal prevalence. It is not less hateful to God on that account.' Those who excuse themselves for the commission of sin, because all are sinners, show plainly that they have no right idea of the evil of sin, as excluding all who commit it from eternal blessedness. They prove themselves to be in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity; and unless they repent and be converted, that their sins may be blotted out,?° they will perish everlastingly.
At the same time it may be proper to observe, that although all sin provokes the displeasure of God, there are some sins which are of a deeper dye than others, and discover greater obduracy of heart, and denote a further progress in the career of iniquity. And so subtile are the devices of the enemy of souls, that he will endeavour to tempt men to commit greater sins, by insinuating that it cannot make much difference to what lengths they may proceed in iniquity. It is dreadful to think that any persons can be
69 1 Johni. 8,7.
70 Acts viii. 23; iii. 19.
71 Psalin xix. 12-14.
so much under the power of the tempter, as to be induced to listen to such deceitful suggestions. They are however made use of by Satan to “thrust men into desperation, or into wretchlessness of unclean living, not less perilous than desperation.” Those who presume to act upon the assumption that it is no matter how great their sins are, because the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanseth us from all sin,69 will find that their presumption is the road to destruction. They have great need to pray that they may be delivered from this snare of the devil, that they may not be involved in his condemnation. The Psalmist prayed to God not only, Cleanse Thou me from secret faults, but also, Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins, let them not have dominion over me, but let me be innocent or free from great transgression.71 Heinous and open sins provoke exceedingly the wrath of God. Let us beware of the indulgence of evil thoughts and desires in our minds, lest we be fit instruments for the tempter to make use of on
Let a sense of our sinfulness humble us under the mighty hand of God. And let it be our prayer that the words of our mouths, and the meditation of our hearts, may be acceptable in the sight of the Lord, our strength and our Redeemer ,71 our strength to enable us to resist the temptations of our spiritual enemies; and our Redeemer, to pardon all our past offences.
The'scripture hath concluded all under sin, inasmuch as it declares, that all the world have become guilty before God, that all have sinned ; and as the consequence of sin, have come short of, or cannot attain to, the glory of God.72 Sin cuts off from communion with God on earth, and from the glory of God hereafter; for into the abode of the blessed there shall in no wise enter any thing that defileth.73 But although all mankind, as sinners, have forfeited the favour of God and eternal happiness; so that none can claim these blessings on account of any thing that they have done or can do of themselves; yet, blessed be God, this declaration is not made to shut us up in despair, but in order to lead the children of men to humble themselves before Him, and earnestly to seek for the pardon of their sins, and reconciliation with God, that they may be delivered from the awful consequences of sin both here and hereafter. The text states,
Secondly, The object proposed by the awful declaration made in it respecting the condition of mankind, that they are all under sin. This is, That the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. The promise here spoken of is that of justification before God; that we might be justified by faith, even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righte
72 Romans üi. 19, 23.
73 Revelation xxi. 27.