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brought off from before they can be reconciled to God; it is for their benefit that I chiefly design this discourse, though it may also be useful, and shall be in part applied to the children of God. It is an affecting thought when pursued to its consequences; yet, alas ! it is unquestionably true, that in every assembly, such as this, of profesfing Christians, there are not a few, who are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity, under the wrath of God, and liable to the condemning sentence of his law; and at the same time, that the far greatest part of them are ignorant of it, and know not that they are wretched, and poor, and blind, and naked.
in discoursing farther upon this subject, therefore, I
I. Endeavour to prove and illustrate this truth, that all mankind are by nature in a state of fin and misery, under the bondage of corruption, and liable to the wrath of God.
11. I shall briefly shew you, that being brought to a lively lense, and genuine conviction of this, is the first and a necessary step to the saving knowledge of God in Christ.-And, in the last place, Shall make some practical improvement of the subject.
1. In the first place, then, I am to prove and illustrate this truth, that all mankind are by nature in a state of lin and misery, under the bondage of corruption, and liable to the wrath of God. What is said in this passage of the Laodiceans, is universally true of the posterity of Adam. Unless an inward and essential change has been Wrought upon them by the grace of God, they are wretcibed, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. It is also true of them, as well as the Laodiceans, that they know it not; but vainly presume themselves to be rich, and increased with goods, and to have need of nothing. If these two things are jointly true of many of you my hearers, there is nothing in which you can have so great a concern ; therefore, let me earnestly beseech your most serious attention to what shall be said, as the success of this conviction is necessary to your understanding, or profiting by any other part of divine truth, as I shall afterwards thew you.
The proof of the truth here asserted, can be only of two kinds : 1. From Scripture, which is the testimony of God declaring it; 2. From the visible state of the world, and our own experience finding it to be so.
1. That all mankind are by nature in a state of fin and misery, appears from the express and repeated testimony of the word of God. And this testimony we have, not only in particular passages carrying the truth, but in the strain and spirit of the whole, and the several dispensations of Divine Providence there recorded, which are all of them built upon this supposition, and intended to remedy this universal evil.
See what God declares : Gen. vi. 5. And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his beart, was only evil continually. And again, the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. We may take the Psalmist David's testimony of himself, as a sample of the rest of mankind; and indeed he plainly intimates that it is a common calamity : Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Behold! I was shapen in iniquity, and in fin did my mother conceive me.
We may take also the testimony of the Apostle Paul in his cpifle to the Romans, which is the more full to our
present present purpose, that as he had never been at Rome, he is there laying the foundation of religion in general, and the Christian dispensation in particular, by a clear and explicit proof of the need the world had of a' Saviour, from its universal corruption and depravity. See then what he says—What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wife ; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under fin. As it is written, There is zone righteous, no not one. And again-Now we know that what things foever the law faith, it faith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. For all have fin. ned and come short of the glory of God.
You may also see, that the Apostle traces this disorder to its very source. Wherefore as by one man hin entered into the world, and death by hn; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have finned.
I shall add but one express scripture-testimony more. - And you hath be quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.
But besides the particular passages of scripture, pofitively declaring this truth, the whole frame and contexture of the scriptures, and all the dispensations of Divine Providence recorded in them, are a proof of the same thing. Man is every where ,considered as in a fallen and finful state. Every thing that is prescribed to him, and every thing that is done for him, goes upon that supposi.. tion. It is not one man, or a few men that are in scripture called to repentance, but all without exception. Now repentance is only the duty of a finner. An inno. cert person cannot repent, he has nothing to grieve for in his heart, or to forsake in his life. It is also proper to observe, that one of the scripture-characters of God is, merciful and gracious, Now to anger, forgiving iniquity,
transgresion and fin. Now, he could not be to us a forgiving God, and there would be no need that he should be re, vealed under that character, unless we were fiuners that stood in need of pardon. Mercy, indeed, is the distinguishing attribute of God, and this can only have respect to offenders. All the other perfections of God might be exercised towards pure and holy creatures, but mercy only towards finners. He might be a good, holy, just, wife, powerful God to persons in a state of innocence, but he can thew mercy only to the guilty.
Do not the dispensations of God's providence fhew the same thing? He sent the flood as a testimony of the wickedness of the world, and for the punishment of a guilty race. Remember also the sacrifices which were appointed and accepted by God from the beginning of the world. Sacrifices are for atonement and expiation. They are plainly a substitution in the room of a forfeited life. It is doing violence to common sense, to make them any thing else. The whole Jewish economy, which had in it so many facrifices, so many offerings, so many washings and purifications, does plainly suppose the person using them to be infected with fin or moral pollution. Had not this been the case, they had been ex- . tremely absurd and improper.
But the strongelt testimony of all that God hath given to the guilt and corruption of mankind, is his fending his own Son into the world to redeem them by the sacrifice of himself.-To what purpose redeem them if they were not in bondage? Why so costly an expiation if our lives had not been forfeited to Divine justice? But that it was for this purpose that Christ came into the world, is so plain from the whole of the scriptures, that I shall select but one pass ge out of many to prove it. --Whom God buh jit forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his
blood, to declare his righteousness, for the remiffion of fins tbat are past, through the forbearance of God.
What is said already on this head is a full proof from scripture, that man is now by nature in a state of fin ; that he is also, in consequence of that, in a state of misery, and liable to the wrath of God, is proved by many of the same passages, and by many others. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.-For the wages of fin is decuh, &c. But I need not multiply passages to this purpose, for in all God's dispensations, the deserved punishment of finners is as evident as their sinfulness itself. It is indeed fully proved from the essential perfections of God, particularly his holiness and justice. He is of purer eyes than that he can behold iniquity. Evil cannot dwell with him, nor fools, that is, finners, stand in bis hight.
Is not all this then, my brethren, a sufficient proof from the testimony of God, that man in a natural state is finful and miserable? Shall we affirm ourselves to be whole if he faith we are unsound? Do we know more than God? Will we not give credit to the fountain of truth? Nor is it any objection to this, that we ourselves know it not, or are but little sensible of it. One considerable part of the disease is blindness of understanding; so that we may and must, till our eyes are opened, be ignorant of our danger.—We may think and say that we are rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing; while we are wretched and miserable, and blind and naked.
2. The same thing appears from the visible state of the world, and our own experience. Unbelievers are apt to hear with indifference and neglect, what they are told from scripture-testimony, unless otherwise confirmed to them; and it is with the unbeliever we have now to B 3