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obedience; promises from God of bestowing it; and prayers of inspired persons for it. A sufficient answer to these arguments is found in this consideration, that the same commands, promises, and prayers, are found in the Old Testament as in the New. And if these do not prove the sinless state of any pious Jew, neither will they prove it of any pious Christian. In the Old Testament, God commanded the Jews to love Him with all their heart, which is the sum of perfect obedience to the moral law; and added, by way of promise, “ The Lord thy God shall circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,” &c. Holy men likewise prayed, under divine inspiration, that God would create in them a clean heart and renew a right spirit within them : yet there was not a just man who did not sin. No argument, therefore, can be drawn from such commands, promises, and prayers in the New Testament, which will set aside the truth of these general assertions respecting man's sinfulness.
5. Besides, in our interpretations of Scripture, we are not to take every expression we meet with, in a sense which it would bear in any other connexion ; nor to understand every
sentence of Scripture in its most obvious and literal sense. But we are to discover the meaning of the inspired writers, by considering the scope and context of each passage, and by comparing it with other passages which may serve to determine the real design of the writers. For instance, St. John says, that “as Christ is, so are we in this world.” Now Christ is perfectly free from the least degree of ignorance or unholiness ;-he is superior to angels, and equal with the Father. But it would be blasphemy to apply this literal meaning of the sentence to any man. Other passages of Scripture then must direct us to the true meaning of this. The Evangelist says, that Zachariah and Elizabeth lived in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord blameless; and at the same time informed us, that the former so far disbelieved the promise of God, as to bring down upon himself the punishment of a temporary dumbness. Holy men under the Jewish as well as the Christian dispensation, are frequently styled perfect, though their failures in obedience are sometimes recorded in the same passages. St. John, who frequently uses the word perfect, tells us, that “if we love one another, the love of God is perfected in us.” So that we have the
greatest reason to believe, that the inspired writers used this and such like terms in a qualified sense; and that the meaning of such expressions in the New Testament is similar to those in the Old Testament.
Wherefore, as by one man, sin entered into the
world; and death by sin ; and (even) so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
The entrance of sin into the world, and the consequences of man's first disobedience, are subjects of the highest importance. They involve some of the greatest mysteries of the divine conduct in the government of the world; and ought to be considered with the most profound reverence and humility.
In this passage of Scripture the Apostle shows both the relation in which mankind stand towards their first parent, and the penalty incurred by the first transgression.
The following reflections on these important topics are submitted to the consideration of the christian reader.
1. 1. It is plain, from the whole scope of the passage, that Adam did not act merely in his individual capacity; but that the effects of his conduct extended to all his posterity. “ By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men.” verse 12.
2. The sufferings brought upon us by the sin of our first parent were not accidental, but by design. They were the effects of the sentence pronounced by the Judge of all. “ The judgment was by one to condemnation;" verse 16.
By the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation;" verse 18. “ By one man's disobedience many were made (watertano ar, constituted) sinners;" verse 19.
3. If judgment passed upon all men in consequence of Adam's disobedience, then