The Primitive and Present State of Man Compared
Adapted from a Sermon by Samuel Davies, preached in Hanover, Virginia; December 10, 1758
For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:17)
Two subjects of the utmost importance in the Christian religion are
· the ruin of mankind by the fall of Adam, and
· the method of redemption by Jesus Christ.
And it is necessary that we should have some working knowledge of them, and be suitably affected with them: otherwise, we cannot be recovered from the ruins of the fall, nor enjoy the salvation of the gospel. I do not mean, that it is absolutely necessary for any man, much less for the plain and illiterate, to know all the niceties of theological controversy, and to be able to solve all the difficulties and objections which the ignorance, arrogance, or curiosity of bickering and presumptuous characters have started in every age on these subjects. But the substance and importance of the truths themselves, their principal consequences as to us, and the duties resulting from them, these we ought to understand and feel.
This knowledge and sense of these things, is as necessary to our salvation, as a sense of sickness, and a knowledge of the means of cure, is to the recovery of the sick. And, whatever is obscure and perplexing about these subjects, we have sufficient light from our Bibles, from observation and experience, to obtain such a degree of knowledge and sense of them, as is sufficient for this purpose, to the saving of our souls.
These subjects, therefore, shall now occupy an hour of your precious time. And may the blessed Spirit of God enable me to reveal, and you to receive, the knowledge of his own truths, without contamination, without corrupt mixtures of human invention, and without partiality and self-flattery! And may He deeply impress our hearts with the knowledge we acquire, and make it a living principle of our life!
The ruin and recovery of mankind, by the first and second Adam, is the subject of the apostle in the context. His immediate goal is to show, the equivalence in some respects, and the difference in others, between these two public people.
We have an instance of this equivalence and difference in my text.
The instance of equivalence in this: That as the offence of Adam gave death a universal dominion over all his numerous posterity; so, the grace and righteousness of Christ procure and bestow everlasting life to all those who receive these blessings. "As, by one man's trespass, death reigned by one; so they, who receive the abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."
The instance of difference is this: The superior effectiveness of the grace and righteousness of Christ; to procure and bestow life; above that of the offence of Adam; to subject mankind to the dominion of death. "If, by one man's trespass, death reigned, how much more shall they reign in life, who receive the abundance of grace, and of the free gift of righteousness from Jesus Christ?"
If the offence of Adam was sufficient for the condemnation of all his posterity, how much more sufficient is the grace and righteousness of the second Adam, to justify and save all who have a saving interest in him.
The expression is very strong and emphatic: "The abundance of grace;" an overflowing, a profusion of grace; not only sufficient, but more than sufficient to repair all the disastrous consequences of Adam's fall; sufficient to procure more blessings, than he or his posterity would have enjoyed, even if he had never offended. And sufficient to make the reign, the dominion of life, more glorious and triumphant, than his sin made the reign or dominion of death dismal and irresistible. We may gain more by Jesus Christ, than we lost in Adam. He cannot only raise human nature out of its ruins, but repair it in a more glorious form, than that in which it came from the hands of its divine Author at first!
The two great truths which the Apostle has chiefly in view in our text, are these:
· that by the sin of Adam, all mankind are subjected to the power of death;
· and, that all who truly receive the blessings of redemption through Christ, are delivered from the death to which they are exposed by the sin of Adam, and also entitled to a more glorious and happy life, than that which they lost by Adam's sin.
Or, in other words, that the blessings of redemption, by Christ, are even more than sufficient to recover us from all the disastrous consequences of the fall of Adam.
These, I say, are the truths the apostle has chiefly in view, and these I hope to mainly illustrate. But I would also make some passing remarks on one or two strong and beautiful expressions, which the apostle uses in our text; and which are certainly worthy of notice.
1. "Death reigned."
How dreadfully striking is the picture! Death is pictured as a mighty all-conquering king, that reigned firmly enthroned, uncontrolled, through a long succession of thousands of years, over all mankind, from generation to generation; keeping them in slavery and terror; arresting, imprisoning, stripping them of all their enjoyments, and depriving them even of their lives, at his pleasure.
Death, in this sense, reigns: king of kings, as well as of their subjects; the sovereign lord of absolute monarchs, as well as of their slaves; the conqueror of conquerors, as well as of their helpless captives.
The power of death is royal, the power of a king! Death reigns! This wide world is his kingdom, the kingdom of death! And all mankind are his subjects, his slaves! How shocking and sobering is the idea, may it sink into our minds!
"Because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man" It was the one offence of one man, which gave death his royal dominion. Then death was proclaimed and crowned king of our world, and all mankind pronounced his subjects. Consider the unspeakable harm that came by that one offence!
But what a glorious contrast flashes before us, in the opposite, as to those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness! "They shall reign"— they shall be made kings, invested with royal power and dignity. They shall reign in life; life shall be the wide-extended territory over which they shall have full dominion. Life shall be the ornament of their crown, the symbol of their reign. They shall reign in life, in opposition to the reign of death; they shall have dominion over that gloomy lord of the sons of Adam. The offspring of the dust, the dying children of Adam the sinner, the feeble mortals that were once the subjects, the slaves of the tyrant death, shall reign in life!
What a glorious, surprising, miraculous promotion is this! And for this they are indebted, not to themselves, but to the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, who has conquered death for them, and dignified them with life and immortality. They shall “reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ." One Jesus Christ is sufficient to accomplish this astounding revolution. What wonders has he accomplished! and how worthy is he to receive “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might!” (Rev 5:12)
The contrast will be highlighted even more, if we notice the comparison implied in the text. If death reigned, then much more shall they reign. If death reigned by one offence, then much more shall they reign by the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness. If death reigned by one Adam, much more shall they reign by one, Jesus Christ. He is much more able to give them life, to save, and glorify, than the first Adam was to kill and destroy. His spiritual children shall reign in life, much more absolutely, eminently, and uncontrollably, than ever death reigned over the sons of Adam.
What a glorious exaltation this is! To have the same command over life, as death has had over the enjoyments and lives of mankind! To be as victorious over death, and all its store of sickness and sorrow, as death once was over life and all its pleasures! What a grand and noble picture!
I now come to the illustration of the great truths the apostle has chiefly in view in this verse; and I begin with the first.
1. That, by the sin of Adam, all mankind are subjected to the power of death.
It is the more necessary to insist upon this, as the doctrine of original sin, as it is commonly called, is not only disputed in our age and country, but too generally denied, and regarded as a Calvinistic fiction, supported neither by Scripture nor reason, and an insult to the perfections of God, and degrading the dignity of human nature.
These days we hear praises to the powers of man, the dignity of his nature, and I know not what: as though these powers had never been shattered by the first fall.
We often hear and read such tirades as these, "Can we suppose that a righteous and good God would inflict punishment upon millions of millions of his own creatures, for an offence committed by another so long before they had a being; for an offence in which they had nothing to do, and which they could not possibly have prevented? Is this consistent with the mercy or the justice of God? What horrid ideas must this raise in our minds of our heavenly Father, as an arbitrary, cruel tyrant, that dooms us to bear his displeasure for a crime in which we had no hand! Has not this doctrine a tendency to cool our love, and excite our horror of him, as the enemy of the race of man? And does it not also tend to cherish a base and sneaking spirit, from a fear that we are degraded depraved creatures, instead of that conscious greatness of mind, which comes out of a sense of the dignity of human nature?"
We are also told, "That as this is not the doctrine of reason, no neither is it that of revelation; that there are but few passages of Scripture that so much as seem to support it; and that these will easily lend themselves to another sense: that this, however, cannot be the sense of them, because it is contrary to reason, which a revelation from God can never contradict."
A great deal to this purpose is pleaded; and these ideas are so popular and pleasing, as flattering their vanity, that mankind are naturally disposed to embrace them! And those are looked upon as the generous friends of human nature, who entertain such high sentiments of man; whereas those who look upon mankind as a degraded race of creatures, are esteemed intolerant, sour, mean creatures, who would dishonor the noble workmanship of God, and overwhelm themselves and others with negativity.
But, let us not be turned back by this, from impartially examining the subject. (Is this not a reasonable proposition?) It is likely that in this, as well as in other matters of difference, both parties have gone to extremes; and we are most likely to find the truth midway between them. Moderation is a virtue, and also a guide to truth; and may it always motivate and direct our minds!
You may observe, that it is not my present goal, nor that of my text, to consider that part of original sin which consists in the corruption of our nature derived from Adam; but only that which consists in the imputation of his guilt to us, or in what way we are exposed to punishment, on account of his sin.
Here I would ask the question, whether or not we do actually suffer punishment on account of Adam's first sin. And, if so, how far may we say this punishment justly goes?
To discover the answer to this, I will compare the primitive, that is its state before the fall, and present state of our world, and of mankind in it, as it is represented to us by revelation, reason, experience, and observation.
If the present state of our world is the same with that in which Adam was created, and if all mankind are now placed in the same state and circumstances that he was placed in, while in innocence, then we may come to the conclusion, that his posterity do not suffer, or are not punished for his sin; or that the guilt of it is not imputed to, or counted against them.
But, on the other hand, if our world is thrown into disorder since his fall, made less accommodating and more harmful to mankind; and, as it were, branded with the displeasure of God; if mankind, since his fall, groan under a variety of miseries, to which man in his primitive state was not subject; miseries, which cannot justly be inflicted upon a race of innocent creatures, and which are evident indications and effects of divine vengeance; if these miseries are evidently inflicted upon mankind for the sin of their first father, and not their own; if they have lost that holiness which adorned human nature, when first formed, and are morally corrupt and depraved; if this, I say, is the case, then it is evident, we are a fallen race, and lie under the punitive effects of Adam's offence.
Now, if we take a view of the primitive state of our world, and of man in it, as it is given us by Moses, the ancient Jewish historian and law-giver in the beginning of Genesis, we will find that it is vastly different from the present state.
In the primitive state, the world was established in such a way, as to provide man with the supports and comforts of life, without hard labor and toil. This is evident from the gracious grants made to the new-made man: "And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food." (Gen 1:29)
This is also evident, from the curse denounced upon the earth after man's fall. “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:17-19)
This loss of fruitfulness in the earth, or its fruitfulness in thorns and thistles, and things of no use, this toil and sweat to obtain even bread, the most common staple of life, had no place in the state of innocence, because it is here expressly denounced as the punishment of Adam's sin. If Adam was already enduring these hardships before his offence, they could not have been threatened beforehand as a punishment for an offence. That the state of innocence was a state of ease and spontaneous plenty, we may see implied also from the fatherly care of the Creator, in planting a garden in Eden, richly filled with every tree pleasant to the eye, or good for food, and placing the man there to look after it, not for his toil, but for his pleasure, and to live upon the divine bounty, spontaneously springing out of the earth. (Gen 2:8, 9)
This is one instance of the difference between the primitive state of our earth, and the present. Instead of this universal fertility of the earth, and the spontaneous plenty of Eden, how great a part of the globe lies waste and barren, in practically unliveable conditions! What intemperate seasons, what parching droughts, and floods, what chilling frosts and withering heats! What devastations by earthquakes and floods, tornados and hurricanes, what harassments by wild beasts, by locusts, caterpillars, and swarms of nameless insects are the fruits of the earth subject to!
And does this seem like paradise on earth? Did it come out of the hands of its Maker exposed to such disorders, and so poorly furnished with provisions for the sustenance and comfort of its inhabitants? Does it seem like a region designed for the residence of a race of creatures in favor with their Creator? Or, rather does it not appear, like the wilds of Siberia, a country into which criminals were once and perhaps are still carried off, and which bears the evident marks of the displeasure of its Maker?
Does not its present disordered state pronounce upon all the sons of Adam, the curse once denounced against Adam, "Cursed is the ground because of you!" May we not read this curse in every brier and bramble, in every tract of barren land, in every plague and natural disaster? It is evident, the curse affects the ground, not only as to Adam, but also his posterity, through all generations; and, therefore, as it was once inflicted, so it is still continued, on account of his sin, for which they suffer, as well as himself.
Again; is the present state of labor and toil the same with the primitive state of man? It must be admitted, that the life of Adam in Paradise was not a life of idleness, for such a life cannot be a happiness, but a burden, to a reasonable creature formed for action. It must also be owned, that a gracious God, according to his usual way, has brought good out of evil, and turned the labor and sweat inflicted at the fall as a curse, into a blessing, as it prevents much sin, which men in a state of idleness would fall into. For none are more liable to temptation, or more ready to employ themselves in doing evil, than the idle. And so, we see the general prevalence of vice, irreligion, and debauched pleasures among the rich, who can support themselves without labor.
But then this happy conversion of the curse into a blessing, is altogether owing to the administration of grace in Christ, or the new covenant, under which God has been pleased to place our world, after the breaking of the first covenant. This degree of labor and toil, as it was originally imposed upon Adam, and continues still to this day, is a curse, a proper punishment for his sin. This is evident from the form of its first denunciation, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you" That is, because you have sinned, therefore, cursed is the ground for your sake; and, therefore, "in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Gen 3:17)
This, you see, was the curse of a broken law, the punishment of sin, in its original intent, whatever new turn may be given to it by the hand of a Mediator, under an administration of grace. And it has eventually, as well as in its own nature, proved a curse in all ages.
What labor and fatigue, what hurry and distraction of business run through all ranks of mankind, except a few idle drones, whose laziness is more uneasy than labor itself! What intense application, what anxious planning, what painful labor of the head, if not of the hand, exhaust even those who get their livings by more refined methods; the statesmen, the lawyer, the merchant, and such!
But if we think of those who do more manual work, the mechanic, the farmer, the common soldier, the sailor, what toils and hardships, what anxious and tiring nights and days do they endure, even to provide a bare subsistence for themselves and their families! And, after all their labor and care, they often still suffer need. What days, and months, and years of toiling and sweating, what wearied bones and aching limbs do they endure! And, after all, how poorly do they live! This labor and care hinders their advancement in learning, so that they continue ignorant all their lives, and hardly ever enjoy any of the pleasures befitting a rational nature. This deprives them of the pleasure and ease of leisure; and, what is worse than all, it leads to their neglecting the one thing needful, while they are distracted with many things.
How unlike is this to the happy life of Adam in the garden of Eden! Is it not a matter of common sense and experience, that the curse of labor and toil denounced against him, reaches also to his posterity; and, consequently, that they are punished for his sin?
Can we suppose that God would doom a number of reasonable, immortal creatures, capable of such high occupations, to dig under the earth in mines, or upon its surface in the field, to endure so many toils and hardships, night and day, by land and sea, to provide a poor subsistence for themselves and their dependants; Can we suppose this, without supposing that it is inflicted as a penalty for sin? And it is evident, it must be for the sin of our first father, on whom it was denounced.
In this instance, you see, there is a visible difference between the present and original state of our world and human nature; and this difference is punishment; that is, it is inflicted upon Adam and his posterity as the punishment of his sin.
Let us now go on to another instance and that is, that man in the state of innocence was not liable to death, or the separation of soul and body. This is certainly implied from death's being the penalty threatened to his disobedience; since if he had been liable to it while he was innocent, it could not be threatened as a penalty. When it is said, "in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die," (Gen 2:17) it is certainly implied, that "while you do not eat, you shall not die; or you shall continue to live." So, when God pronounces the sentence on him, after his offence, "you are dust, and to dust you shall return," (Gen 3:19) he undoubtedly denounces something new, to which man was not exposed before, and something punitive, on account of his sin. This Paul also asserts in emphatic terms. "By a man," he says, by the first man, Adam, “came death," (1 Cor 15:21) So also, "Through one man," namely, Adam, "sin came into the world, and death through sin; and so death spread to all men because all sinned," (Rom 5:12) This, therefore, is certain, that death had no place in a state of innocence.
And therefore, it follows, that the world was so organised, as to have no tendency to take away the life of man. Those poisonous animals and vegetables, that now destroy human life, and those beasts of prey, which now sometimes devour man as their food, either did not have these harmful qualities, or were under such providential restraints that they could not exert them. Those explosions of lightning above, and earthquakes below; the plague of viruses and bacteria, and all those disorders in the material world, which, in the present state of things, are fatal to mankind, had no place in the initial state of the earth; for if they had existed, and exercised their power, death would have been the natural and unavoidable consequence.
We cannot suppose that Adam's body was invulnerable, so that the bite of a lion, the poison of a serpent, or the weight of a mountain could not affect it; nor can we suppose it would have lived, though torn and devoured by beasts of prey, struck with lightning, or buried in an earthquake. Such injuries would undoubtedly have shattered it, and brought on death; and the most probable security against it is, that there would have been no powers in nature to do it such injuries; but these harmful and deadly qualities have been added to them since the introduction of sin.
Lions, and tigers, and snakes, and other animals that now destroy mankind, and also poisonous plants, did, no doubt, exist before the fall of Adam; but then they either did not have these hurtful qualities, or they did not use them against man, while he was innocent. These qualities were weapons of war put into their hands, when they enlisted to fight their Maker's quarrel, at the revolt of mankind. We have more than conjecture, we have Scripture evidence for this, as far as it refers to the brute creation; for Adam was constituted their lord, and they were not to injure him, but serve him. Here is how the Divine charter ran, "God blessed them, (that is, the new-made pair,) And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen 1:28) To this also the Psalmist refers, "You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.” (Psa 8:6-8)
And so, man was given dominion over all the brute creation, including the most fierce, ungovernable, and poisonous; and this implied an exemption from all injuries, and especially deadly injuries from them. It would have been but a weak dominion, if a snake or wild beast might lie in ambush for his lord and kill him. We can therefore come to the conclusion that all the harms that mankind are liable to, from brute creatures, had no place in the world, until sin entered into it.
We may also infer, further, that since man, in his primitive state, was not liable to death, neither was he liable to sickness, pain, and mortal accidents. Death is the consequence and final result of these pains, sicknesses, and accidents; and, therefore, we cannot suppose them to exist in a state that excluded death. Death is often used in Scripture in a large sense, and means not only the separation of soul and body, but afflictions, pains, miseries, especially those that are the causes and companions of death. It is possible that this was the meaning in the first threatening: and, if so, man's exemption from death, in his primitive state, implied an exemption from all the afflictions, pains, and miseries, that are often included in that word.
There is one type of pain, which we may be sure, from plain statements of Scripture, human nature would have been free from, had it continued innocent: pains which one cannot but sympathise with; pains, which are always agonizing, sometimes mortal; and which come with our entrance into this world; I mean the pains of child-bearing. The command was given early, "Be fruitful and multiply," Genesis 1:28; so that Adam and Eve would have had a large posterity. But, after the fall, this sentence was passed upon guilty, trembling Eve, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children." (Gen 3:16) Here, pain and sorrow are added to the whole process of our formation in the womb; sorrow in conception, and sorrow in bringing forth children. That this would not have been part of the propagation of mankind in a state of innocence, can be shown with the same earlier argument. If this had been part of conception and birth in that state, it could not have been inflicted as the punishment of sin: for that cannot be the punishment of sin, which we must suffer though we should not sin.
Now, as this sort of pain and sickness could not have afflicted mankind in a state of innocence, may we not, by an equal reasoning, conclude, that neither would they have been subject to any other kind of pain or sickness; and that, as Adam was immortal, so he had no seeds or principles of any disease in his body, nor was he liable to any hurtful accidents from outside?
But if this was the primitive state of human nature, sadly! how vastly different from it is the present! And, since the terrible change, caused by Adam's sin, sensibly affects mankind in every age, as well as himself, how lamentably evident is it, that they share in the punitive effects of his sin!
Death has reigned from Adam to Moses, from Moses to Christ, and from Christ to the present generation; death has reigned over people of every character and every age. And how painful and tormenting are its agonies, and the struggles of dissolving nature! When you view a dying man in his last days, with all the shocking symptoms of death at work upon him, can you imagine, that in this way man would have made his passage from world to world, if he did not lie under the weight of guilt, and the displeasure of his Maker?
How terrible is the prospect of death before it comes! How does it embitter the pleasures of life! and how many does the fear of it keep in cruel bondage all their days!
What sicknesses, pains, sorrows, and hurtful accidents, are mankind exposed to in every age, before they ripen for death; the grand result of these long-continued calamities! And what distress do the living and the healthy suffer in sympathy, from the sufferings and death of others, especially of dear friends and relatives!
What desolations, what distresses and deaths are spread over the face of the earth, by famine, war, epidemics, earthquakes, hurricanes, extremities of heat and cold, and all the nameless disorders to which the natural and moral world is now exposed! How many mischiefs have mankind suffered from savage and poisonous animals, which were made the subjects of man in his primitive state! All these mischiefs, as we have seen, had no place in the state of innocence; but are the punitive consequences of the sin of the first man, and it can be seen every day, that they reach to his posterity also.
It was his sin that brought about the rebellion of the brute creation against mankind; that armed serpents and vipers with deadly stings and poisons, and the lion, the tiger, the bear, and other beasts of prey, with rage, and all the powers of slaughter. These are the executioners of God’s displeasure, turned loose upon a race of rebels, to avenge the justice of their Maker!
These miseries not only affect the adult, but also the young descendants of Adam, before they have done good or evil in their own persons. How many dangerous and deadly accidents are these young immortals exposed to, even while enclosed and guarded by the womb! And with what pain and risk of life do they make their entrance into the world! And how many of them are maimed or perish at the entrance of life! It is often a dubious struggle, whose life must go, the mother's or the child's; and sometimes both perish together. Here we should dwell a little on the pains and sorrows of conception and birth, because this is more expressly the punitive consequences of the first offence.
During the difficult months of pregnancy, what apprehension, what nausea and unnatural longing; what disorders; what anxious and trembling expectations of the painful hour, and what danger of miscarriages even from small accidents; and when the painful hour comes, what great anguish and violent pains, so violent, that the pains of a woman in labour have become a proverbial expression, to suggest the greatest possible misery. How many have lost their life in that distressing hour, or received such injuries as from which they never recover!
And so, the manner of our entrance into the world implies, that we are a race of creatures out of favor with God, and lie under his displeasure from generation to generation.
And as to the case of infants, for many in this world. If they are safely born, then what various calamities are immediately ready to attack these little ones! How much do they suffer from the unskilfulness, carelessness, or poverty of their parents and caregivers! What various nameless diseases and pains, bruises and fatal accidents, are they subject to: the sense of which they express by their crying, the only language they are capable of! How many of them die in their early years, before they have answered any of the purposes of the present life, only to give their parent a double trouble, first in nursing them, and then in suffering the bereavement of them!
Now is this world, which is so full of destructive powers, causes of sickness, sorrow, and death, and which makes these miseries inevitable according to the present course of nature: is this world, I say, in that order and harmony, in which it was formed for the residence of upright man? Has it not passed through some dismal change, when the earth, the sea, the air, the fire, animals, and vegetables, are full of the principles of sickness, misery, and death, which were once all friendly to human life, and helpers in its preservation or pleasure?
Does it not look like a palace turned into a prison, to confine and punish hateful rebels? Are these frail, sickly, mortal bodies, like the body the pure soul of Adam inhabited, when it first came out of the hands of its Creator? Does man now hold his original dominion over the brute inhabitants of the earth, the sea, or air? Or have they not rebelled against him, because he has rebelled against his Maker? Is not the curse denounced against Eve, entailed upon all her daughters? And is not the sentence passed upon Adam, "you are dust, and to dust you shall return," (Gen 3:19) executed upon all his children? executed upon them in such a manner, as shows, it is for his sin and not their own; and therefore, applied even to his infant offspring, before they have contracted personal guilt by actual sin?
Are not human bodies now prone to sickness, and various forms of miseries and deaths? And is not all nature around them working towards these dreadful purposes? It seems evident that sorrow, pain, sickness, death, and all the miseries to which mankind are now subject, are natural, unavoidable, and necessary, in the present state of the natural and moral world; and that the present state of things is in righteous judgment adapted and disposed to inflict these miseries: and since innocent man was not liable to them, it follows, that the frame and disposition of the world is changed, on account of Adam's sin. Nothing is more natural, in the present state of things, than sickness and death to the human body; than the fierceness, poison, and the various destructive qualities, of many animals and vegetables; than storms, earthquakes, floods, and other causes of misery and death to mankind. These things are natural; that is, they agree with the established laws of nature, in the present state of the world.
And if these things had existed with these qualities in the primitive state, diseases, desolations, and death, would have been their natural, necessary, and unavoidable effects. But since the effects did not exist, neither did their causes. And so, it follows, that the whole frame of our world was changed for the worse, in punishment of Adam's sin. And since this world was intended for the dwelling place of his posterity, as well as his own dwelling place; and since they suffer the terrible effects of that change which it endured as the punishment of his sin; it follows further, that they share in his punishment, and therefore that the guilt of his sin is somehow laid to their charge.
What then can be more evident, even from daily experience and observation, than that all mankind do, in fact, suffer for the sin of their first parent, or that the guilt of his sin is imputed to them, and punished upon them? Whether this is consistent with the Divine perfections, and how it comes to pass, we may consider at some other time; we are now only looking into the fact; and that it is fact, cannot be denied, without denying a matter of universal experience and observation.
There is one final instance of a great difference between the present and primitive state of man, which should be highlighted, and perhaps is a summary of all of them; namely, that man was innocent and holy in his original state, and also entitled to everlasting happiness; but that in his present state, both of these are lost. And what a solemn loss this is.
If, by God’s grace, you have come to sense and understand the reality of this fallen state of mankind, and your minds have been awakened and impressed with a sense of urgency at your degenerate state, may it lead you to cherish humility, and earnestly seek deliverance. And to look on all the calamities of life, as helpful reminders of your need for a Savior.
For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:17)