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by means of one. In the one case, many offences are remitted : in the other, one offence condemned.
16. And not as it was by one" that sinned, so is the gift : for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.9 17. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
True, by one man's offence death reigned over the world; mankind was involved in ruin. Still, knowing as we do the mercy of God, much more certain is it that they who embrace the offer of abundant grace and the free gift of righteousness, shall be preserved and live eternally by one, Jesus Christ : that if death reigned over all, through Adam, through the Son of God they who trust in him shall reign victorious over death for ever.
Thus we may derive confidence from the very calamity in which we are involved. When through the offence of one many were dead, then our natural state has been so pitied, that God has actively exerted himself for our deliverance. And the Deliverer is his own dear Son; through whom the gift by grace has abounded unto many.
A comfort therefore belongs to us, which may appear greater through example. It did not, for instance, belong to the prodigal in the parable. In that distress to which he had been reduced by departing from his father's house, the prodigal reflected within himself on the happiness which he had left, and determined to return. But he had no promise of favour; no invitation: the father had not sent “the elder son” to reclaim him and say, Retrace your steps and “be reconciled to" our father. This God has done for us: and therefore, nothing doubting, we may “come boldly to the throne of grace,” and seek for ourselves the promised gift of righteousness. If God had willed our destruction, he would have left us in our misery: but since he has not left us in our misery, but made a way for our deliverance, he loes not will our destruction, but our salvation.
* One offence. 9 Pardons and justifies from many sins.
THE CONDEMNATION OF MANKIND THROUGH THE JUDGMENT OF GOD, COMPARED WITH HIS MERCY IN THEIR SALVATION.
RoMANs v. 18–21.
18. Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of Mife.
19. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
We may here introduce what St. Paul says on this subject later in his epistle. “Behold the goodness, and the severity of God.” On them that offend, severity. By the offence of one, or by one offence,” judgment came upon all men to condemnation. This can neither be concealed nor denied : and it shows us, what men are so prone to disbelieve, the certainty of God's judgments. He issued his command to the man whom he had created, and said; “In the day when thou transgressest the command, thou shalt surely die.” Adam disbelieved, and did transgress. Immediately was the sentence executed. Sin entered into the world, and with sin death : death, and all that leads to death;-so that every eye we close and every grave we stand by, nay, every pang we witness and every tear we shed, are proofs to assure us of the fact, that “the transgression of the law is sin,” and that he who has given the law, will avenge the law; for “the wages of sin is death.” Here, however, we must not stop. The Scripture does not stop here. St. Paul does not stop here, because God has not stopped here. We are led on, from the example of this severity, to admire the goodness of God in the dispensation of the Gospel. He has followed the same rule in mercy as in judgment. By Adam's disobedience evil came upon the whole world of sinful men. By the obedience of Christ a blessing is proposed to all. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” and exempting from condemnation all that “repent and believe the Gospel.” The effects of Adam's disobedience will not be fatal to them, unless they themselves continue disobedient. To as many as are conscious of these effects, and sorrowing for
| xi. 22.
them: to as many as feel themselves to be labouring and heavy laden, labouring under the yoke of a corrupt nature, and heavy laden with the burthen of sin: to all such is the mercy offered, the invitation of Christ proposed; “Come unto me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” For God willeth not the death of a sinner. “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways and live?” This mercy must be man's sole dependence. The more he knows or learns of the divine law, the more he will discover his own failings and short comings. This was seen, when God revealed his will by Moses to the Jews.
20. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
As was before shown, “until,” i.e. before “the law, sin was in the world.” When God's revealed daw entered, and was delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai, it showed the extent of man's corruption more and more. The law not only did not remedy, it even aggravated the disease.” You might suppose it given for the very purpose that offence might abound; so generally did sin prevail in opposing the divine law: so heinous did man's character appear, compared with the rule which God had given to direct him. But yet, God's grace was not then restrained. If sin was more manifest, so too was God's mercy more manifest, in providing a way of recovery from that sin.
3 Ezek. xviii. 23. * Chrysostom.
21. That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sin hath reigned unto death. This brings our case particularly home; describes the circumstances in which we stand. For so we might each of us reason with ourselves. The judgment of God came upon all men. I feel it in myself: in “the sin which is in my members:” in the sentence of death under which I live. But is there no hope no way of escape 2 No “city of refuge,” to which I may flee and be secure? The same Scripture, which tells me that by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, tells me also, that by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. So that if sin hath reigned unto death, even so may grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. In this way then there is escape. By trusting to the righteousness of Christ, I may be accounted righteous in God's sight: nay, be admitted into his family, and by adoption reckoned among his children.
This then is the rock on which we should lay hold, and so cling to it as never to be shaken off. There is a deluge by which the world is overwhelmed, a deluge of sin and death; and its effects extend to all. Our business is not, to inquire how the waters should so prevail over the earth; but to seize upon the way of safety: to take refuge in the ark, which he himself has provided who rules the deluge. In thus offering the means of preservation, God has shown that he has a design of mercy. That is done for mankind, to which the Psalmist trusts, and in which