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1. To whom the words are applicable
Though primarily applicable to the Antediluvians, they must not be confined to themSimilar passages are applicable to use
(Ps. xiv. 2 4. appears from the context to relate only to the wicked Jews of that age
But St. Paul applies it to the whole human race ]
(Civilization may alter the outward deportment-
The piety of parents does not flow in the blood, ex. gr. Cain, Ham, Esaum]
God expressly repeats them in reference to men after the floods
[Here, as in the text, “man” comprehends the whole human race. It is further declared, that the corruption is not the effect of habit merely, but connatural with us from the earliest period of our existence ]
These proofs confirm the declaration itself as well as the application of the words II. The declaration contained in them
In general terms, “the wickedness of man is great”
But more particularly “his heart, the thoughts of his heart, the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart, are evil”
[Thoughts are evil when not conformed to the law of God
The law of God is the only standard of good and evil
Every thought therefore, which through defeet deviates from what the law requires, is evil-]
The disposition of “his heart” is evil; • 1. Without exception; " every imagination” is evil
[There is not one thought, even of the most eminent saints, that will stand the test of God's law
But the natural man has not one thought that is not altogether contrary to God's law.]
2. Without mixture; “ only evil” - [There is some good where the grace of God operates
e Ps. li. 5. Jer. xvii. 9. John iii. 6. Rom. viii. 7, 8.
But there is no mixture of good in the heart of a natural mani
Whenever he does any thing, which appears good, self will be found both the principle and end of this action ] 3. Without intermission “continually"
[There is no interval when good finds ad nittance-1 This is an hard saying, but trueIII. The ground upon which the declaration rests If it stood on man's testimony, it might be rejected
[Man is incompetent to determine such thingskm-] But it stands on the testimony of God,“ God saw," &c.—
[He knows the heart and every thought of it He can determine the qualities of our thoughts He will make them manifest at the last day"-]
His judgment is always according to trutho— INFERENCES
1. What reason have we all for the deepest humiliation!
(Our words and actions have involved us in much guiltBut how innumerable have been the imaginations of our thoughts!
Yet all these have been only evil continually-
Let us pray that the thoughts of our hearts may be forgiven us ]
2. What reason have we to love and value the Lord Jesus Christ!
[He knew what an aggregate of evil there would be in the world
Yet he came to bear it all
Let us henceforth have our conversation in Heaven, and pray with Davids]
i Rom. vii. 18.
ki Cor. ii. 11.
Job xlii. 6.
! Ezek. xi. 5.
Rom. iii. 3, 4. r Acts viii. 22.
XIX. CONVERSION A GROUND OF THANKFULNESS.
Rom. vi. 17. God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin;
but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
EXEMPTION from the punishment of sin is doubtless an inestimable blessing
But deliverance from its power is equally precious
The most advanced Christians greatly delight in this part of salvation
Hence St. Paul thanks God for bestowing this mercy on the church at Rome
We shall consider from the text 1. The character of all while in an unconverted state
All are “ servants of sin” till they receive converting
[All indeed are not slaves to the same sinSome are led captive by their lusts and passions
Others are drawn away by the pleasures and vanities of the world
Others are under the dominion of pride and self-righteousness
But all without exception are alienated from the life of Goda
All are full of unbelief and self-sufficiency ] .
[The scriptures every where assert this respecting fallen mano
The most eminent saints confess it to have been their own case
Experience proves it with respect to ourselves
The very excuse which men offer in extenuation of their sins, viz. " that they cannot live as God requires,” establishes this truth ]
But it does not remain so in regenerate persons; as appears from II. The change they experience in conversion
God instructs them in “ the form of sound doctrine"
a Eph. iv. 18. • Tit. iii. 3.
bo John viii. 34. Rom. vi. 16. with the text.
[They hear the declarations of God in his word. ' They are enlightened by the Spirit to understand them,
They have the word applied with divine efficacy to their souls-] This form of doctrine they "obey from the heart”
[They yet indeed feel a law of sin in their members But they no more serve sin” willingly as before On the contrary, “they now delight in the law of God”
They obey it, not in appearance only or by constraint, but willingly and without reservem]
They are now cast, as it were, into the mould of the gospel
[This is the force of the original; and is the marginal version
This is also the case, wherever the gospel takes effect—"
The wax has every lineament of the seal, and the coin of the die
So do they resemble God, who are renewed by the gospel
The blessedness of this change will appear if we consider III. How great a cause of thankfulness such a conver
sion is The apostle thanks God that they were no longer slaves of sin
[Sin is at all times a ground of shame and sorrow · Paul esteemed it so in his own particular caseh
Every saint of God views it in the same light
St. Paul therefore did not mean that their subjection to it was a ground of thankfulness
But the subject of his thanksgiving is, that the Romans, who once were slaves of sin, were now entirely devoted to
This is a ground of unspeakable thankfulness on many accounts
1. On account of the moral change in the persons themselves
[What can be more deplorable than to be a slave of sin?What can be more amiable than to have all our actions and affections corresponding with the word of God?
Surely this is a ground of thankfulness-]
Eis ov Fagedónto túmor didaxos. e Col. i. 6. ' p 2 Cor. ifi. 18. % Rom. vi. 21.
h 1 Tim. i. 13. Vol. I.
2. On account of the effects of this change on society
[How much better member of society must a child of God be than a slave of sin!
How much happier would the world be, if such a change were general!
On this account therefore it became the apostle to be thankful-]
3. On account of the eternal consequences that must fol. low this change
[They who die slaves of sin must suffer its punishmentThey are now the children of the devil, and must soon be his companions in misery
But the regenerate are children and heirs of God
Surely eternity will scarcely suffice to thank God for this We shall conclude with a suitable ADDRESS
1. To the unregenerate
[All who have not been freed from sin are of this number
Alas! the friends of such have little cause to thank God for them
They have rather reason to weep and mournk
They may indeed bless God that the stroke of vengeance has been delayed
O that all such persons might know the day of their visitation!
Let all cry to God for his converting grace- .
Nothing but a cordial compliance with the gospel, and a real conformity to it, will avail us in the day of judgment-] 2. To the regenerate
[The foregoing marks have sufficiently characterized these persons
Such persons will do well to reflect on the mercy they have . received
The recollection of their past guilt will serve to keep them humble
A consciousness of their remaining infirmities will make them watchful
A view of the change wrought in them will make them thankful
Let the regenerate then adopt the words of the Psalmist!
Let them press forward for higher degrees of holiness and glory-]