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Leading Truths of the Gospel. ****** ** ****+******** ****** ******
All mankind by nature under sin.
Romans Hi. 23.
Tor all have sinned, and come Jbort of the glory of Cod.
THE whole revelation of the will of God to mankind, both in the Old Testament and the New, proceeds upon the fuppositipn that they are sinners; that is to fay, transgreflbrs of his law, and liable to the stroke of his justice. This only can give meaning to the doctrine of redemption. None can understand, at least none can ralish or embrace it, unless they believe, and arc persuaded of this preliminary truth.
What I have now said, appears from many express passages of the holy scriptures; and is particularly evident from the general strain, and from the very structure of the epistle to the Romans. In it the apostle, who had never been at Rome, gives a full and particular account of the doctrine of Christ; and he lays the foundation for this by a distinct and laboured proof, that all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin. In imitation of his example, I intend to begin my discourses on practical religion, by endeavouring to impress your minds with a^ sense of the same truth. This must lead the way to the saving knowledge of the Redeemer; and as he only can build securely, who takes care that every part of the superstructure rest immediately Or ultimately upon the foundation, it is as necessary to be remembered by saints, as to be received by sinners.
It may perhaps, on a flight view, appear to be superfluous. 'All mankind,' some will say, ' are ready to acknowledge that * they are sinners; and there is great reason 'to believe they are sincere in this confes'sion.' But, my brethren, a little reflection may convince you, that this general acknowledgement is either very insincere, or very imperfect and defective. It is plainly a light fense of sin that enables the multitude to sleep in security. It is plainly a light sense of sin
that . that betrays men into the commission of it, and emboldens them to continue in it. It is plainly a light fense of sin that blunts the edge of all the threatenings in the word of God, and the admonitions of his providence. Is it not from a light fense of sin, that when the preaching of the gospel is not wholly deserted, its inestimable truths are received without thankfulness, and heard without prosit?
For these reasons, I propose, through the assistance of divine grace, to discourse a little on the words of the apostle now read: "For "all have sinned, and come short of the glo"ry of God:" And, in so doing, shall
I. Endeavour to consirm the truth contained-in them, That all mankind are sinners, or transgressors of the law of God, and liable to his righteous judgement. And,
1. Shall make a practical improvement of the subject.
I. In the first place, then, let us endeavour to consirm the truth contained in the text, That all mankind are sinners, or transgressors of the law of God, and liable to hisrighteous judgement. And here, my brethren, it puts me a little to a stand, in what manner to handle this important subject; whether in the way of reason or affection; whether in the way of cool and conclusive arguments directed to the judgement, or pointed A 2 interrogatories interrogatories directed to the conscience. Many, nay, innumerable, are the cavils that have been brought by men of corrupt minds against this fundamental truth. The father of lies, indeed, seems to consider it, and justly, as the corner-stone of true religion, which, if. he is able to weaken or undermine, it must end in the fall and ruin of the whole fabric. If there be any among you, as possibly there are, infected with the poison of insidelity, all exhortation and warning will be treated by such with disdain, while their objections, however weak, have not been brought into view. On the other hand, there are multitudes of sinners borne away by lust and passion, who are incapable of understanding the force of speculative reasoning, and who have an unhappy tendency to overlook, as what does not. concern them, every thing that is treated -in that way. I shall be obliged, therefore, to have an eye to both: and oh! that it may please God to enable me so to propose to the judgement, and so to press upon the conscience, this necessary truth, as that some careless persons may be awakened, and brought to an attention to the one thing needful ; and that if any have hitherto taken up with imperfect notions of religion, and built their hope upon the sand, they may be persuaded in time to distrust that dangerous situation, and to found it upon the reck of ages.
For the reason above assigned, it is difficult to determine, what use is to be made of scripture-testimony on such a subject. The charge of guilt upon the sinner, seems to be only preparatory to, and must, as it were, pave the way for the reception of scripturetruths. If the testimony of God in scripture is to be rested on, this one passage is sufsicient; but the unbelieving heart is ready to> challenge and call in question every such scripture-declaration. I sind the worthy author of a well-known catechism, commonly used in the instruction of children, joins together scripture and experience, in the answer ta that question, "How do you know, that you "are born in a state of sin and misery?" Ans. "God's word tells me so. Besides, I *' sind my heart naturally backward to that "which is good, and prone to that which is*' evil." After this example, and considering, that by the law is the knowledge of sin, we shall not separate them; the rather, that God is able' to make his own word, even in the bare repetition of it, quick and powerful, Heb. iv. 12. In the further illustration of this head, therefore, I shall, first, briefly lay before you some of the scripture-declarations on this stibject; and, idly, consirm them from experience, the visible state of the world, and the testimony of our own hearts.
A 3. First,