Romans 5:12
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, so also death was passed on to all men, because all sinned.
Death by Adam, Life by ChristJohn Newton Romans 5:12
A Weak World Made StrongD. Thomas, D. D.Romans 5:6-12
Christ's Vicarious DeathAmerican Youth's CompanionRomans 5:6-12
For Whom Did Christ DieC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 5:6-12
Glorying in GodRomans 5:6-12
Man's Impotency to Help Himself Out of His MiseryRomans 5:6-12
The Certainty of the Believer's Final RedemptionH. Hughes.Romans 5:6-12
The Sad Plight and the Sure ReliefC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 5:6-12
Without StrengthA. Raleigh, D. D.Romans 5:6-12
The Reign of DeathT.F. Lockyer Romans 5:12-14
A Historical ParallelJ. Oswald Dykes, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
Adam and ChristJ. H. Tarson.Romans 5:12-21
Adam and ChristJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
Adam and ChristR. Koegel, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
Death by Sin, and Sin by ManU. R. Thomas.Romans 5:12-21
Grace AboundingC.H. Irwin Romans 5:12-21
Human DepravityT. Raffles, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
Introduction of Sin into the WorldProf. Godet, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
Man's FallHubbard-Puritan.Romans 5:12-21
On the Fallen State of ManT. Fernie, M. A.Romans 5:12-21
Original SinT. Chalmers, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
Original SinHon. and Rev. A. T. Lyttelton.Romans 5:12-21
Original SinW. F. Hook, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
Original SinA. Toplady, M. A.Romans 5:12-21
Original SinC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 5:12-21
Original Sin, a RootJ. G. Wilson.Romans 5:12-21
Original Sin, a Scientific FactF. W. Robertson.Romans 5:12-21
Original Sin: Why God Did not Arrest its ConsequencesProf. Godet.Romans 5:12-21
Representative ResponsibilityR.M. Edgar Romans 5:12-21
Sin and DeathJ. Parsons.Romans 5:12-21
The Analogy Between the Manner of Man's Condemnation in Adam and Justification in ChristJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
The Entrance of Sin into the WorldT. Robinson, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
The Great ParallelsRomans 5:12-21
The Introduction and Consequences of SinW. Cunningham, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
The Misery of Man's Sinful StateT. Boston, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
The Need of HealingF. Paget, D. D.Romans 5:12-21
The Principle on Which Justification ProceedsW. Tyson.Romans 5:12-21
What is ChanceC. Kingsley, M. A.Romans 5:12-21

Here the apostle contrasts the reign of sin with the reign of grace, and shows that, while there is a point of similarity between them, there are many points in which they differ, and in which grace is triumphant over sin. All this is for the encouragement of the sinner, that he may be led from the captivity of sin to hope and live under the influence of God's mercy.

I. GRACE AND SIN BOTH CAME BY ONE PERSON. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin" (ver. 12); "Through the offence of one many died" (ver. 15); "Death reigned by one" (ver. 17); "By one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (ver. 19). So also with the reign of grace. "The grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one Man, Jesus Christ" (ver. 15); "They who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ" (ver. 17); "So by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous" (ver. 19). Observe here the power of the individual for good or evil. Our acts are widespread in their influences, perhaps eternal in their consequences. "None of us liveth to himself." Shall our life be a curse to those around us, or a blessing? Shall we be among those whose aim and errand in the world seem to be to do all the mischief or all the harm they can? Or shall we be amongst those who try to follow in the footsteps of him who "went about every day doing good"?


1. Sin brought condemnation; grace triumphant brings pardon. "The judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification" (ver. 16); "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 to justification of life" (ver. 18). Grace and mercy triumph over the guilt of sin.

2. Sin brought sinfulness; grace brings righteousness. "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (ver. 19). One man's sin imposed upon the race an hereditary taint of sin. The depravity of human nature, as already shown, is universal. "All have sinned." But here, too, grace can triumph. Grace can change the corrupt and unregenerate heart. Grace reigns through righteousness God's purpose in justification is not merely that his people may be saved from sin's guilt, but also that they may be delivered from its rower. As St. Paul elsewhere says, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Ephesians 1:4). The experience of many a true child of God has shown how grace can triumph over the hereditary sinfulness of human nature, and over the special temptations to which some natures are exposed.

3. Sin brought death; grace brings life. "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (ver. 21). It is sin which has cast the gloom over the dark valley. "The sting of death is sin." But Jesus has come to give us light. "Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57). Truly, if sin has abounded to the corruption and despair and death of human nature, grace has much more abounded to its regeneration and hope and everlasting life. - C.H.I.

By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men.
Sin entered as a foe into a city, a wolf into a fold, a plague into a house; as an enemy to destroy, a thief to rob, a poison to infect.

(T. Robinson, D. D.)

The word "entered" indicates the introduction of a principle till then external to the world, and the word "by" throws back the responsibility of the event on him who, as it were, pierced the dyke through which the irruption took place. Paul evidently holds, with Scripture, the previous existence of evil in a superhuman sphere. Assuredly no subsequent transgression is comparable to this. It created, here below, a state of things which subsequent sins only served to confirm. If the question is asked, how a being created good could perpetrate such an act, we answer that a decision like this does not necessarily suppose evil in its author. There is in moral life not only a conflict between good and evil, but also between good and good, lower good and higher good. The act of eating the fruit of the tree on which the prohibition rested, was not illegitimate in itself. It became guilty only through the prohibition. Man, therefore, found himself placed — and such was the necessary condition of the moral development through which he had to pass — between the inclination to eat — an inclination innocent in itself, but intended to be sacrificed — and the positively good Divine order. At the instigation of an already existent power of revolt, man drew from the depths of his liberty a decision whereby he adhered to the inclination rather than to the Divine Will, and thus created in his whole race, still identified with his person, the permanent proclivity to prefer inclination to obligation.

(Prof. Godet, D. D.)


1. As to the origin of sin. "By one man sin entered into the world."(1) Sin is "the transgression of the law, and the one man by whom it entered into the world was Adam. He was created after the image of the Almighty, and placed in Eden, where we behold a test of obedience, "the tree of knowledge of good and evil," with regard to which, "the Lord God commanded the man, saying...thou shalt not eat of it." Here, then, was the law, showing the right of God to command, the obligation of man to obey, and the responsibility and the final account which man must render to the Almighty for his conduct. Satan, animated by malignant hatred to God and holiness, became the tempter, that he might introduce sin. Our first parents yielded, an event which changed the path of nature, and whose mighty consequences will be felt throughout eternity.(2) The transgression of our first parents was of vast and heinous amount. There are some who have been inclined to treat it with levity, and have sometimes inquired, "What mighty offence could there be in the eating of an apple?" In answer, note the sins connected with this transgression. There was —(a) Unbelief, because they denied the right to command and the penalty that existed.(b) Ambition, because they aspired to be as gods, distinguishing between good and evil.(c) Sensuality, because they wished to gratify mere animal appetite.(d) Ingratitude, because they turned against that God who had spread around them every enjoyment.

2. As to its diffusion, "all have sinned."(1) As it is impossible that an evil tree should bring forth good fruit, so it was impossible, when the nature of our first parent had become corrupted, that one of his descendants could enter into the world except as being a partaker of corruption also. Each, then, enters the world possessing what we term original sin.(2) This important doctrine is indicated in Genesis 5:3, where Adam is said to have begotten a son "in his own likeness, after his own image," apparently in contrast to the fact that he was formed "after the likeness of God." The same doctrine is affirmed in the inquiries of Job and Bildad, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." "How can he be clean that is born of a woman?" There is the confession of David, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity." There is the statement of Christ, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." There is the asseveration of the apostle, "The old man is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts."(3) Now, that original sin always produces actual transgression. Hence it is that the children of the first man exemplify in themselves unbelief, ambition, sensuality, and ingratitude. Whatever modification may have been formed by education, example, or interest, this one fact remains, that man everywhere is a sinner. The charges of Scripture are without exception or limit: "All flesh has corrupted his way upon the earth." "There is none that doeth good, no not one." "The heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."


1. The origin of death "by sin." Man was formed with a susceptibility of being affected by the prospect of reward, and by the fear of punishment. Obedience was connected with the one, and disobedience with the other; and thus the most powerful of motives was put in action to aspire to good, and to avoid evil. Now, death was a penalty presented as the result of transgression (Genesis 2:16, 17; Genesis 3:17, 19). "The wages of sin is death." Corporeal death was included, but much more, viz., spiritual and eternal death; i.e., the debasement of human nature consequent upon its alienation from God, the withdrawment of the Divine friendship, the terrors of the conscience at the prospect beyond the grave, the consummation of all this by the entrance of the soul into a state of retribution forever.

2. The diffusion of death. "Death passed upon all men." In Adam all die; all men are sinners, and therefore against all men the penalty is still standing.(1) Corporeal death is a penalty which is exacted from all the sons and daughters of Adam.(2) The ages at which the allotment is suffered vary. There is the child at the mother's breast, the youth in the springtide of gaiety and buoyant spirits, the man in the maturity of wisdom and of power, the aged bending under the decrepitude of years.(3) The method in which the allotment is suffered varies. The convulsions of nature; war; famine; accident; disease, slow and sudden. And yet, amid the variety of modes, seasons, the path is the same. All these things are but so many avenues leading down to the one narrow house, which has been appointed for all living.

3. Spiritual death constitutes the state of every man by nature. Every man in consequence of that state of spiritual death, is also in peril of proceeding to receive the recompense of it in the agonies of death eternal.


1. It becomes us to perceive and to lament over the exceeding sinfulness of sin.

2. We are called upon also to admire the riches of that Divine mercy which has provided a remedy against an evil which is so dreadful.

(J. Parsons.)


1. In its physical application. All the pains that our body has to endure are but the efforts of death to master it; and those pains are rendered worse because they awaken the fear of death. It is because accidents and disease are so often fatal that they are so greatly dreaded, and their pains so bitterly endured.

2. In its social results. Friendships shattered, homes broken up, hearts bleeding, does not the mere mention of these daily facts remind us what a curse death is. The graves of good men, and of beloved ones bear witness to more terrible things about death than can be expressed.

3. Spiritual death, all that is the opposite of purity, peace, love, joy, i.e., of eternal life is meant in Scripture by death. This death, which is insensibility, corruption, helplessness, ruin, is widespread. Every soul is either a temple or a tomb, a sanctuary or a sepulchre. Let the life of God be wanting, and the soul is dead. Over such death good men lament, angels may wail, and the Spirit of God grieves.

II. THE ORIGINAL CAUSE OF DEATH. "Sin." Death is not here naturally. It invaded the world and is here because sin is here. Some find a difficulty in admitting that physical death is the result of sin; our bodies must die, they say, altogether apart from it. In answer may we not ask —

1. May not our physical nature be so injured by sin, that we cannot tell from our present knowledge what it might primarily have been? May not sin have introduced some mortal element that makes death now a necessity, or have expelled some immortal element that would have made death impossible?

2. Can we not see that the God who translated Enoch and Elijah could have so translated all the human race, supposing it were necessary that they should go? or —

3. Can we not see that but for sin death might have been without pain or fear? Even now to the Christian death resembles sleep. To the sinless the analogy might have been still more true. But explain it how we may, the teaching of the Scripture is that death is the penalty of sin. Shall not we count sin, then, our deadliest enemy, and contend with it as such?

III. THE VAST INFLUENCE OF MAN. "By one man." It was the hand of man that opened the world's gates to sin and to death. What the force of no foe from without could accomplish, happened through the compliance of a traitor within. But the text says that "by one man sin entered," etc. Oh, the stupendous power, the momentous responsibility of that one man! Had that "one man" resisted temptation all might have been otherwise. We should have inherited stronger natures, nobler habits, and holy tendencies. But the "one man" who stood in the very forefront of the battle used the will he had (and without which will he could not have had any virtue), and chose to sin. And today our ancestors' sins, even back to the sin of the first sinner, have exercised their share of influence in making us what we are. Our yielding to temptation is none the less guilty than Adam's. For if our nature is weaker and our tendencies more debased, we have in the sufferings and deaths of generations a warning such as he could not have known. So without charging home on our "first father" more than his due proportion of guilt, we summon him here as an unanswerable witness to the vast influence of individual men. Our sins should ever be discouraged, our virtues excited by the remembrance that "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." Conclusion: Let us thank God for the gospel that so gloriously meets at every point the sad suggestions of our text.

1. Is death in the world? Its conqueror, He who has taken its sting and crushed its power, is the ever living, ever present Christ.

2. Is sin in the world, working its fearful ravages as the precursor of death? The Saviour from sin is even more intimately one with this same human race. As "one man" sinned, "one man" has redeemed the world. And where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound.

(U. R. Thomas.)


1. What it is, or wherein the sinfulness of our fallen state doth consist.

2. Not only particular expressions and passages, but the whole of Divine revelation, concerning Christ's coming into the world to save His people from their sins, proceeds upon a supposition of this truth, that sin has entered into the world, and that all have sinned.

3. Sin has in it an unlikeness, or contrariety and opposition, to the very nature of God. Sin is a transgression of the Divine law, and betrays want of loyalty to our supreme Lord — rebellion, and a contempt or denial of His authority and right of sovereignty over us. Sin is also dishonouring to God, and robs Him of that glory, honour, and service we owe to Him. Sin likewise carries in it the baseness of ingratitude to God, our kind Benefactor. Further, sin brings confusion into our frame, turning our affections from God to the creatures, and exalting the passions and appetites to reign over reason, and counteract the dictates of conscience. Again, sin brings deformity, pollution and defilement on our souls; effacing that likeness to God, and conformity to His law, which is their beauty and glory; stamping them with the likeness of the prince of darkness, and making them vile and filthy.

II. THE MISERY OF OUR FALLEN STATE. "Death by sin, and so death passed upon all men."

1. Let us consider what this misery is, or what is implied in that death which entered into the world by sin. They are exposed to manifold miseries in this life — to internal miseries in the soul — the distress that flows from vile affections and disorderly appetites. Further, the death which is here said to have entered into the world by sin, no doubt includes natural death, or the separation of soul and body. The second, or eternal death, is by far the worst and most dreadful part of the misery to which we are exposed by sin.

2. Sad experience, in all ages and in all nations, witnesseth that troubles of various kinds are incident to the children of men while they live and that death is the common lot of all mankind. Death or misery is the punishment which sin deserves; its just reward. Death or misery is the fruit of sin connected with it and allotted to it by the law of God; God having expressly threatened to Adam, "In the day thou eatest, thou shalt surely die." The honour of the Divine veracity requires that sin be punished. The connection established betwixt sin and punishment is not a mere arbitrary constitution, but founded upon the infinite purity, rectitude, and goodness of God. The same thing may be argued from the Divine justice and righteousness. Of this He has given a most awful and striking display in the sufferings and death which Christ, as our substitute, endured when He His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree. Nay, this the very goodness of God, and the end of His government, as the kind and merciful Ruler of the world, require. When the Lord caused His goodness to pass before Moses, He proclaimed, as one part of it, "That He will by no means clear the guilty"; intimating that even His punishing the guilty is an act of His goodness and love.

3. The greatness of that misery to which we are, by sin, become liable.

(T. Fernie, M. A.)

1. The question of the origin of evil has exercised and perplexed the understandings of men in every age. The theories of most of the ancient philosophers on this point involved far greater difficulties than that which they were introduced to account for. And how could it be otherwise? for the principles of the subject lie beyond the range of the human faculties.

2. Even the Christian revelation does not profess to give a full explanation; for it does not countenance the presumptuous attempts of men to be "wise above what is written." It is a religion of faith; and God expects that all His rational creatures should be willing to receive with humility, and thankfulness, the measure of knowledge with respect to Himself and His ways which He is pleased to communicate. It is also a religion of practice. It was never intended to furnish materials for mere intellectual exercise.

3. In conformity, then, with these leading characteristics of our religion, the gospel revelation, although it does not profess to give a full explanation of the origin of evil, does yet give us some information which calls for the exercise of humble faith and is intended to promote the purposes of practical godliness. The substance of the information is given in the text.

I. "BY ONE MAN SIN ENTERED INTO THE WORLD." From this we learn that God was not the author of sin, it formed no part of our constitution as it came from the hand of its Creator. But although man was able to stand, he was also liable to fall; and he did fall through the temptation of the devil. The introduction, then, of sin into the world was the joint work of Satan and of man.


1. Does the text mean merely that the first man was the first that sinned, and that all his descendants have also sinned in like manner, following his bad example? There is a great deal more in the matter than this.(1) The Scriptures, and especially the whole subsequent part of the chapter, represent all Adam's posterity as implicated both in the guilt and in the punishment of his first transgression. The trial of Adam, under the covenant of works, was substantially the trial of the human race. Adam was a fair specimen of human nature, and his conduct was a fair test of what human nature could do, and would do, when placed in certain circumstances, and subjected to certain influences.(2) But Adam was not only a fair specimen of human nature, he was also the federal head and representative of all his posterity. In consequence of this, all men sinned in him, and fell with him, and are justly subjected to all the penal consequences of Adam's first sin.

2. Adam lost communion with God. It was no longer consistent with the holiness of the Divine character to hold fellowship with a being who had rebelled against His authority. Adam, accordingly, was expelled from Eden, where he was wont to hold personal intercourse with the Father of his spirit. So all his posterity are born where they cannot in the ordinary course of things expect to be visited with any intimations of a Father's care and love.

3. From this all the other consequences of Adam's sin upon his posterity are derived. These are all comprehended under the word "death." The sanction attached to the covenant of works was, that "in the day he broke it he should surely die."(1) That the word "death" here means more than the separation of the soul and the body is evident, for the denunciation was not literally fulfilled. At the same time, we are expressly informed that temporal death was a consequence of Adam's transgression. We are too much in the habit of looking upon death just as the natural consequence of our bodily constitution, and of the physical influences to which we are subjected. But had man not fallen, he had never died, nor been subjected to those influences which now are the proximate causes of death; but he would have flourished forever in undecaying health.(2) Death, then, involves something more than dissolution. Men are naturally "dead in trespasses and sins"; kept in a state of distance and alienation from God, the truth of which fact rests upon grounds independent of the truth that man's moral nature is derived from Adam. This might be proved in many cases by an appeal to a man's consciousness, and by an impartial examination of the state of the world, and the moral aspect of human society. This condition is not only one of sinfulness, but one of misery. The true happiness of a rational and immortal creature can consist only in the favour of God. Everything else, although it may afford pleasure for a time, is in reality only a vain show of happiness, and can afford no permanent enjoyment.(3) But there is a more alarming sense still in which the word "death" is used. The apostle tells us that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," where, from the contrast between the two parts of the statement, it follows necessarily that the death which is the wages of sin must be eternal death, that is, the endurance of everlasting misery in hell.

4. The reason of man has often alleged that it is inconsistent with justice to involve men in the penal consequences of an offence which they did not commit. To which the full and adequate answer is — "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" At the same time, before anyone can show that he is treated unjustly, the objector must show that, if he had been placed in Adam's circumstances, he would not have fallen as Adam did, but would have held fast his integrity. And this is a position which few individuals will be presumptuous enough to maintain. Besides, our actual transgressions are independent of the particular manner in which they originated. It is our duty to state plainly and openly all the doctrines revealed to us in Scripture; and if wicked men will pervert the doctrines of Scripture their blood be upon their own head.

5. But, remember that God did not abandon all intercourse with the human race when He drove Adam from paradise. Immediately after the fall, He held out an intimation of a Deliverer, and by a series of wonderful dispensations He made preparations for the manifestation of Him who was to destroy the works of the devil. Accordingly, in the fulness of time, God sent into the world His only-begotten Son for the purpose of delivering men. On the ground of what Jesus Christ did and suffered, every man is warranted to come to Christ that he may receive salvation. The offers of the gospel are addressed to you, and if you do not accept of them, you remain, of course, in your sins; but the guilt is entirely your own, you have rejected the counsel of God against yourselves and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life.

(W. Cunningham, D. D.)

This doctrine may be regarded as it respects the disposition to sin, and as it respects the guilt of it. These two particulars are distinct. The corruption of human nature means its tendency to sin. The guilt of them who wear that nature means their evil desert on account of sin.


1. Can only be gathered from man's sinful doings or desires. We do not need to dig into a spring to ascertain the quality of its water, but to examine the quality of the stream which flows from it. We have no access to the hearts of the inferior animals, and yet we can pronounce from their doings on their disposition. We speak of original ferocity in the tiger. This means that, as the fountain on the hillside is formed and filled up before it sends forth the rills which proceed from it, so a ferocious quality of nature exists in the tiger before it vents itself forth in deeds of ferocity; and it is a quality not due to education, provocation, climate, accident, or to anything posterior to the formation of the animal itself; it is seen, both from the universality and unconquerable strength of this attribute, that it belongs essentially to the creature. There is no difficulty in understanding here the difference between original and actual. Could the cruelties of a tiger be denominated sins, then all the cruelties inflicted by it during the course of its whole life — then would these be its actual sins. These might vary in number and in circumstances with different individuals, yet each would have the same cruel disposition. It is thus that we verify the doctrine of original sin by experience. Should it be found true of every man, that he is actually a sinner, then he sins, not because of the mere perversity of his education, the peculiar excitements to evil that have crossed his path, the noxious atmosphere he breathes, or the vitiating example that is on every side of him; but purely in virtue of his being a man. And to talk of the original sin of our species, thereby intending to signify the existence of a prior and universal disposition to sin, is just as warrantable as to affirm the most certain laws, or the soundest classifications in natural history.

2. There is not enough, it may be thought, of evidence for this fact, in those glaring enormities which give to history so broad an aspect of wicked violence. For the actors in the great drama are few, and though satisfied that many would just feel and do alike in the same circumstances — there is yet room for affirming that, in the unseen privacies of social and domestic life, some are to be found who pass a guileless and a perfect life in this world. Now it is quite impossible to meet this affirmation by passing all the individuals of our race before you, and pointing out the actual iniquity of the heart or life, which proves them corrupt members of a corrupt family. You cannot make all men manifest to each man; but you may make each man manifest to himself. You may appeal to his conscience, and in defect of evidence in his outward history you may accompany him to that place where the emanating fountain of sin is situated. You may enter along with him into the recesses of his heart, and there detect the preference to its own will, the slight hold that the authority of God has over it. We dispute not the power of many amiable principles in the heart of man, but which work without the recognition of God. It is this ungodliness which can be fastened on every child of Adam. From such a fountain innumerable are the streams of disobedience which will issue; and though many of them may not be so deeply tinged, yet still in the fountain itself there is independence of God. Put out our planet by the side of another, where all felt the same delight in God that angels feel, and are you to say of such a difference that it has no cause? Must there not be a something in the original make and a constitution of the two families to account for such a diversity?

3. We are quite aware that this principle is but faintly recognised by many expounders of human virtue. And therefore it is that we hold it indeed a most valid testimony in behalf of our doctrine, when they are rendered heartless by disappointment; and take revenge upon their disciples by pouring forth the bitterest misanthropy against them. Even on their own ground, original sin might find enough of argument to make it respectable.

4. The existence of man's corruption, then, is proved from experience; how it entered into the world is altogether a matter of testimony. "By one man," says our text, "sin entered into the world." He came out pure and righteous from the hand of God; but Adam, after he had yielded to temptation, was a changed man, and that change was permanent, and while God made man after His own image, the very first person who was born into the world, came to it in the image of his parent. This is the simple statement, and we are not able to give the explanation. The first tree of a particular species may be conceived to have come from the Creator's hand with the most exquisite flavour. A pestilential gust may have passed over it, and so changed its nature, that all its fruit afterwards should be sour. After this change it may be conceived to have dropt its seeds, and all the future trees rise in the transformed likeness of the tree from which they sprung. If this were credibly attested, we are not prepared to resist it; and as little are we entitled to set ourselves in opposition to the Bible statement that a moral blight came over the character of our great progenitor; and that a race proceeded from him with that very taint of degeneracy that he had taken on.

5. Another fact announced in this passage is the connection between the corruption of our nature and its mortality. This brings out in another way the distinction between actual and original sin. All have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, i.e., by a positive deed of disobedience; infants e.g. The death that they undergo is not the fruit of any actual iniquity, but of that moral virus which has descended from the common fountain. And what is this but the original and constitutional aptitude that there is to sinning, a disposition that only yet exists in embryo, but which will come out into deed so soon as powers and opportunities are expanded. The infant tiger has not yet performed one act of ferocity, but we are sure that all the rudiments of ferocity exist in its native constitution. The tender sapling of the crab tree has not yet yielded one sour apple, but we know that there is an organic necessity for its producing this kind of fruit. And whether or not we should put to the account of this the boisterous outcry of an infant, the constant exactions it makes, and its spurning impatience of all resistance and control, so as to be the little tyrant to whose brief but most effective authority the entire circle of relationship must bend, still the disease is radically there. Original sin, then, as it respects the inborn depravity of our race, is at one with the actual experience of mankind.

II. We should further proceed to show in how far original sin, AS IT RESPECTS THE IMPUTATION OF GUILT TO ALL WHO ARE UNDER IT, IS AT ONE WITH THE MORAL SENSE OF MANKIND. Experience takes cognisance of whether such a thing is, and so is applicable to the question whether a depraved tendency to moral evil is or is not in the human constitution. The moral sense of man takes cognisance of whether such a thing ought to be, and whether man ought to be dealt with as a criminal on account of a tendency which came unbidden by him into the world.

1. To determine the question we should inquire how much man requires to have within his view, ere his moral sense be able to pronounce conclusively. One may see a dagger projected from a curtain, grasped by a human hand, directed against the bosom of an unconscious sleeper; and, seeing no more, he would infer that the individual was an assassin. Had he seen all he might have seen that he was in fact an overpowered victim, an unwilling instrument of the deed. The moral sense would then instantly reverse the former decision and transfer the charge to those who were behind.

2. Now, the mind of man, in order to be made up as to the moral character of any act, needs to know only what the intention was that originated the act. An act against the will indicates no demerit on the part of him who performed it. But an act with the will gives us the full impression of demerit. How the disposition got there is not the question which the moral sense of man, when he is unvitiated by a taste for speculation, takes any concern in. Give us two individuals — one of whom is revengeful and profligate, and the other kind and godly, and our moral sense leads us to regard the one as blameable and the other as praiseworthy. And in so doing it does not look so far back as to the originating cause of the distinction.

3. What stumbles the speculative inquirer is this, he thinks that a man born with a sinful disposition is born with the necessity of sinning, which exempts him from all imputation of guiltiness. But he confounds two things which are distinct, viz., the necessity that is against the will with the necessity that is with the will. The man who struggled against the external force that compelled him to thrust a dagger into the bosom of his friend, was operated upon by a necessity that was against his will; and you exempt him from all charge of criminality. But the man who does the same thing at the spontaneous bidding of his own heart, this you irresistibly condemn. The only necessity which excuses a man for doing evil, is a necessity that forces him by an external violence to do it, against the bent of his will struggling most honestly and determinedly to resist it. But if the necessity be that his will is bent upon the doing of it, then such a necessity just aggravates the man's guiltiness.

4. It is enough, then, that a disposition to moral evil exists; and however it originated, it calls forth, by the law of our moral nature, a sentiment of blame or reprobation. If it be asked how this can be, we reply that we do not know. It is not the only fact of which we can offer no other explanation than that simply such is the case. We can no more account for our physical than for our moral sensations. When we eat the fruit of the orange tree we feel the bitterness; but we do not know how this sensation upon our palate stands connected with a constitutional property in the tree, which has descended to it through a long line of ancestry. And when we look to the bitter fruit of transgression, and feel upon our moral sense a nauseating revolt, we do not know how this impression stands connected with a tendency which has been derived through many centuries. But certain it is that the origin of our depravity has nothing to do with the sense and feeling of its loathesomeness wherewith we regard it.

5. There is an effectual way of bringing this to the test. Let a neighbour inflict moral wrong or injury; will not the feeling of resentment rise immediately? Will you stop to inquire whence he derived the malice, or selfishness, under which you suffer? Is it not simply enough that he wilfully tramples upon your rights? If it be under some necessity which operates against his disposition, this may soften your resentment. But if it be under that kind of necessity which arises from the strength of his disposition to do you harm, this will only stimulate your resentment. And thinkest thou, O man, who judgest another for his returns of unworthiness to you, that thou wilt escape the judgment of God?

6. These remarks may prepare the way for all that man by his moral sense can understand in the imputation of Adam's sin. We confess that no man is responsible for the doings of another whom he never saw, and who departed this life many centuries before him. But if the doings of a distant ancestor have in point of fact corrupted his moral nature, and if this corruption has been transmitted to his descendants, then we can see how these become responsible, not for what their forefathers did, but for what they themselves do under the corrupt disposition that they have received from their forefather. According to this explanation, every man still reapeth not what another soweth, but what he soweth himself. Every man eateth the fruit of his own doings.

III. IN ATTEMPTING TO VINDICATE THE DEALINGS OF GOD with the species, let us begin with the portion now within hearing. What have you to complain of? You say that, without your consent, a corrupt nature has been given you, and that so sin is unavoidable, and yet there is a law which denounces upon this sin the torments of eternity. Well, is this an honest complaint? Do you really feel your corrupt nature, and are you accordingly most desirous to be rid of it? Well, God is at this moment holding out to you in offer the very relief which you now tell us that your heart is set upon. Does not God wipe His hands of the foul charge that His sinful creatures would prefer against Him, when He says, "Turn unto Me and I will pour out My Spirit upon you"? Who does not see that every possible objection which can be raised against the Creator is most fully and fairly disarmed by what He offers to man in the gospel? And if man will persist in charging upon God a depravity that He both asks and enables us to give up, did not we firmly retain it by the wilful grasp of our own inclinations, is it not plain that on the day of reckoning it will be clear that the complaints of man, because of his corruption, have been those of a hypocrite, who secretly loved the very thing he so openly complained of. We may conceive a man murmuring at being upon a territory over which there is spread a foul atmosphere charged with all the elements of discomfort and disease, and at length to be wrapped in some devouring flame which would burn up every creature within its vortex. But let God point his way to another country, where freshness was in every breeze, and the whole air shed health and fertility and joy over the land that it encompassed — let Him offer all the facilities of conveyance so as to make it turn simply upon the man's will, whether he should continue in the accursed region or be transported to another. And will not the worthless choice to abide rather than to move, acquit God of the severity wherewith He has been charged, and unmask the hypocrisy of all the reproaches which man has uttered against Him? What is true of the original corruption is also true of the original guilt. Do you complain of that debt under the weight and oppression of which you came into the world? What ground, we ask, is there for complaining, when the offer is fairly put within your reach, of a most free and ample discharge, and that not merely for the guilt of original, but also for the whole guilt of your proper and personal sinfulness.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

Now he who would deny original sin must contradict all experience in the transmission of qualities. The very hound transmits his peculiarities, learnt by education, and the Spanish horse his paces, taught by art, to his offspring, as a part of their nature. If it were not so in man, there could be no history of man as a species; no tracing out the tendencies of a race or nation; nothing but the unconnected repetitions of isolated individuals, and their lives. It is plain that the first man must have exerted on his race an influence quite peculiar; that his acts must have biassed their acts. And this bias or tendency is what we call original sin.

(F. W. Robertson.)

Probably no one will seriously deny the fact which is asserted throughout the Bible that "all are under sin," that "in many things we offend all." The universality of sin, apart from all theories as to its origin, or the cause of its universality, is a fact of experience as incontestable as any universal statement about the human race can be. This is different from the doctrine of original sin; it is an assertion that, as a matter of fact, all human beings whom we know, all of whom any record exists have, so far as we can judge, shown in one point or another a weakness and corruption of nature, a faultiness — to use the lowest term — which in most cases rises to occasional wickedness, in some to the most extreme and continuous depravity. But it has been pointed out by a great theologian of our own time, that when such a fact as this can be affirmed of every representative of a race composed of such various sorts, under such various conditions of time and place, as the human race, the fact points to a law. No fact can be universal unless some law, some general cause, lies behind it. We may not always know what it is, but we believe that it is there though we have not yet discovered it. It is simply impossible for us to think that the universal phenomenon of sin is due to chance; that men, differently constituted and differently placed as they are, should all have fallen into sin by accident. There must be, then, some law corresponding to the fact and explaining it. Such a law is that which we assert in asserting the doctrine of original sin. For this doctrine does not simply declare that all men sin — that would be merely a re-statement of the universal fact, a summary, not a law; but it asserts that this is the result of inheritance depending upon the physical relation of one generation to another, and that each human being brings with him into the world a tendency to sin, which is due to no act or wish of his own, but is the working out of far off causes among the dim origins of the human race. That is the law which, according to the Bible and the Church, lies behind and explains the universal fact of sin. There might be another explanation, another law. It might be maintained that every soul was freshly created by God, that it came into the world unaffected by the previous conditions of the race, untainted by any stain of will or deed of its human ancestry, and that by the direct act of its Creator every such soul has been made to fall into sin; so that the phenomenon of universal sinfulness is simply a repetition in millions and millions of cases of an act of God's controlling power by which men are allowed — nay, impelled — to become evil. This is a conceivable theory; but the conscience of every Christian must revolt from such a travesty of God's love and human free will. Whatever the mystery of sin may be — and I am not, of course, attempting (the Church has never attempted) to explain its origin, its first appearance in God's universe — we must at least bring it into harmony with what we know of God's will and of His methods in other parts of His action. And it is surely more consistent with our knowledge of the universe to say that sin is due to one great cause acting uniformly throughout the human race than to ascribe it to so many repeated separate acts of God's will. We dare not believe that God directly wills that any soul should sin, but we can see that indirectly, and in consequence of one of the great general laws of His action, He may allow men to reap the fruit of human sin even if the harvest should be their own continuance in sin. That, apart from the question of redemption, is the Christian doctrine of original sin. It depends upon a general law, the law of the intimate relation of human beings one to another — the solidarity, as it is called, of the human race. Indeed, but for this relation, it is difficult to see how Christianity could be an intelligible system at all. If we do not share in the sinfulness of our forefathers, neither do we share in the redemption won for us by Christ, the spiritual Head of our race. For "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." If men are simply separate atoms, unrelated to each other save by the similarity of outward form and nature, how can they be Christ's brethren? If they do not constitute a body, how is Christ the Head?

(Hon. and Rev. A. T. Lyttelton.)

Was it compatible with Divine perfection to let this succession of generations, stained with original vice, come into the world? God certainly might have annihilated the perverted race in its head, and replaced it by a new one; but this would have been to confess Himself vanquished by the adversary. He might, on the contrary, accept it such as sin had made it, and leave it to develop in the natural way, holding it in His power to recover it; and this would be to gain a victory on the field of battle where He seemed to have been conquered. Conscience says to which of these two courses God must give the preference, and Scripture teaches us which He has preferred.

(Prof. Godet.)

Sin is born in a child as surely as fire is in the flint — it only waits to be brought out and manifested.

(W. F. Hook, D. D.)

acted as an extinguisher; and therefore the soul is born in darkness and cannot see until enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

(A. Toplady, M. A.)

Our father Adam had a great estate enough at first, but he soon lost it. He violated the trust on which he held his property, and he was cast out of the inheritance, and turned adrift into the world to earn his bread as a day labourer by tilling the ground whence he was taken. His eldest son was a vagabond; the first born of our race was a convict upon ticket of leave. If any suppose that we have inherited some good thing by natural descent, they go very contrary to what David tells us, when he declares, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." Our first parents were utter bankrupts. They left us nothing but a heritage of old debts, and a propensity to accumulate yet more personal obligations. Well may we be poor who come into this world "heirs of wrath," with a decayed estate and tainted blood.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

A pious minister, having preached on the doctrine of original sin, was afterwards waited on by some persons, who stated their objections to what he had advanced. After hearing them, he said, "I hope you do not deny actual sin too?" "No," they replied. The good man expressed his satisfaction at their acknowledgment; but, to show the folly of their opinions in denying a doctrine so plainly taught in Scripture, he asked them, "Did you ever see a tree growing without a root?"

(J. G. Wilson.)


I. THAT ALL MANKIND ARE MADE MISERABLE. This needs no proof. Sad experience in all ages confirms the truth of this assertion.

II. THAT THIS MISERY CAME UPON MEN BY THE FALL. Man came not out of God's hand with the tear in his eye, or sorrow in his heart, or a burden on his back. Death never could enter the gates of the world till sin set them wide (Genesis 3). And then one sin let in the flood, and many sins followed and increased it. The first pilot dashed the ship on a rock, and then all that were in it were cast into a sea of misery.


1. Man's loss by the fall. He has lost communion with God.(1) A saving interest in God as his God. Man could then call God his own God, his Friend, his Portion, being in covenant with Him.(2) Sweet and comfortable society and fellowship with God (Genesis 3:8). Thus man lost God (Ephesians 2:12), the greatest and the fountain of all other losses. Had the sun been forever darkened, it had been no such loss as this. Man is a mere nothing without God; a nothing in nature without His common presence, and a nothing in happiness without His gracious presence (Psalm 30:5; Psalm 63:3).

2. What man is brought under by the fall.(1) God's wrath (Ephesians 2:3).(2) His curse (Galatians 3:10).

3. What man is liable to in consequence.(1) In this world.(a) To all the miseries of this life. First, outward miseries, as, God's curse upon the creature for our sake (Genesis 3:17); calamities, such as sword, famine, and pestilence; miseries on men's bodies, sickness, pains, etc.; on our estates, as losses, wrongs, and oppressions; on our names, by reproach, disgrace, etc.; on our employments; on our relations. Secondly, inward spiritual miseries, as "blindness of mind" (Ephesians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 4:4), "a reprobate sense" (Romans 1:28), "strong delusions" (2 Thessalonians 2:11), "hardness of heart" (Romans 2:5), "vile affections" (Romans 1:26), fear, sorrow, and horror of conscience (Isaiah 33:14).(b) At the end of this life, man is liable to death (chap. Romans 6:23).(2) In the world to come.(a) The punishment of loss — of all the good things of this life; of all the good things which they are enjoyed here; the favourable presence and enjoyment of God and Christ (Matthew 25:41); of all the glory and blessedness above.(b) The punishment of sense. Conclusion:

1. See here the great evil of sin.

2. Woeful is the case of all who are in a state of nature.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

Let us consider —


1. What this sin was, and how it came to be committed. The sin itself, as to the outward act, was the eating of the tree of knowledge contrary to the command of God. The manner of doing it may be collected from Genesis

3. compared with other Scriptures.

2. Its heinousness.(1) It contained many sins.

(a)Direct disobedience and rebellion against God.


(c)Inordinate indulgence to the sensual appetite.

(d)Pride and covetousness.

(e)An envious discontent with God.

(f)Sacrilege; for God was robbed.

(g)Idolatry; because the trust due to God only was transferred to the devil, and because they made a tree a god to themselves, and expected from it greater benefits than their Maker would bestow.


(i)Injustice and cruelty against all their posterity.(2) It had special aggravations.(a) It was committed in a direct manner against God, and struck at all His perfections at once. His Majesty was treated by it with irreverence, His truth was arraigned, as though He had spoken what was equivocal or false. His Omnipotence was impeached, by the hope of escaping an evil certainly threatened; His goodness was contemned by ingratitude. Finally, His omnipresence, wisdom, justice, and holiness all shared in the affront.(b) It was perfectly voluntary, being done against the clearest light.(c) The broken command was an easy one, for it required nothing to be done, but only somewhat to be foreborne.(d) The sin was committed in paradise, a delightful spot, honoured with the special presence of God and friendly communion with Him.(e) This sin was the first in our world, which gave birth to the innumerable sins and calamities.


1. All men suffer and die through it (vers. 14-17).

2. It belongs in the guilt of it to all men. "All have sinned." How? Why, in Adam, their common father and head. (See also vers. 18, 19.)


1. Natural death, with a long train of miseries in life preceding it.

2. The punishments of another world.

3. One which commences in every man on the first union of soul and body — the want of habitual rectitude, or of effectual principles to incline and enable him to do what is pleasing to God, together with the inherency of an evil habit and bias prompting and disposing him to sinful actions.Conclusion:

1. Let us learn from the first sin growing into such an enormous size, though conversant about a matter in itself inconsiderable, never to account the doing of anything which God forbids a slight trespass, and never to venture on it under such a pretence (1 Corinthians 5:6; James 3:5).

2. Let us be deeply humbled before God, for original sin without us, even that of our first parents, which, though not done by us is yet upon us by a just imputation, and for original sin within us.

3. Let us see that we abuse not this doctrine by charging all our sins so to the score of original corruption, as by the presence of a necessity, either to take an unbounded liberty in sinning or to extenuate the guilt of what we do knowingly with free and full consent of will. On the contrary, it is incumbent on us to watch, strive, and pray the more carefully and earnestly against sin as it easily besets us.

4. Let us take occasion from the view of our fall in the first Adam, with its sad consequences, to admire and thankfully use the way of our recovery in the second, which is in exact opposition to the former, only with superior efficacy and advantage.


It is —


1. The understanding.

2. The conscience.

3. The will.

4. The affections.


1. Ages.

2. Countries.

3. Communities.

4. Families.

5. Individuals.


1. The origin of sin is in the creature, not in the Creator.

2. Accordingly, man was created pure and holy.

3. But almost the first thing recorded of him is his fall.

4. The results of the fall — its degradation and misery of man — pass from one generation to another.

(T. Raffles, D. D.)

1. "The traits of greatness and of misery in man are so clear," says Pascal, "that it is absolutely necessary that the true religion should teach us that there is in him some great principle of greatness, and at the same time some great principle of misery."

2. In Genesis 3 we see the beginning of all that dreary, mean, disfiguring misery that rudely clashes with the honour of humanity, as the heir of a great house entering upon his envied heritage is saddened for life as he is told the secret of some shameful cloud upon the name he boasts, some taint of dishonour or wretchedness that is in his veins — so we learn the great blot on our scutcheon: how it is that we can be so noble and so base — it is because "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin."


1. There is a clear and familiar analogy between our childhood and the childhood of our race. We look back, and in both cases the utmost effort of our thought fails long before it draws near to the first dawn of life and consciousness; in both cases there is much that we most take on trust, here relying upon the words of earthly parents, there upon the Word of God. And we then come to find, in both cases, that life itself is a verification of that which we have thus received by faith.(1) For as we try to recall the first years of our own lives, the lines which we can retrace through our school days grow faint and uncertain as they enter the furthest past, till in the far distance of childhood only a few points of quivering light appear, like the scattered lamps of a straggling suburb, and then the tracks of consciousness are utterly lost in impenetrable haze. It is from others that we learn the story of those earliest days. It is faith in others, the evidence of things not seen, which links our present and our past. But then, as we go on living by this faith, accepting the manifold conditions of the state assigned to us, the witness of experience day by day confirms our trust.(2) Now, is it not even exactly thus with the dim childhood of mankind? We travel back along the centuries towards the beginning of our race; presently the guidance of history falters and then stops; then tradition fails us long before we get to the boyhood of humanity; at last even science is irresolute, and only offers us hypothesis. Natural reason tells us as little of the childhood of humanity as memory can tell us of our own. But then, from behind the veil, there comes the voice of the Father of Spirits, whose eyes did see our substance yet being imperfect, and He alone tells us how man first became a living soul, and what were the conditions of his dawning thought; from Him we learn how our new life was lifted up by the inward strength of His own holiness, by the unchecked fulness of His grace; He teaches us what was the trial of those early years, and what choice first called our freedom into exercise. And then He shows us the beginning of our sin and all its devastating work. All that wondrous vision of man's infancy He offers to our faith. But here again Faith is not left to stand alone. By experience we find ourselves to be just what that strange revelation would lead us to expect: confused, uncertain of our proper place, bewildered between our ideal and our caricature, contented neither with virtue nor with vice; we have forces striving in us which are and are not ourselves, we have desires from which we recoil, and aversions for which we long, so that sometimes it almost seems as though man might have called himself fallen, even if God had never told him how he fell.

II. Yes, it is true indeed that, as Pascal says, "THE MYSTERY OF THE FALL AND OF THE TRANSMISSION OF ORIGINAL SIN IS A MYSTERY AT ONCE MOST REMOTE FROM OUR KNOWLEDGE AND MOST ESSENTIAL TO ALL KNOWLEDGE OF OURSELVES." "It is, indeed, itself incomprehensible, but without it we are incomprehensible."

1. The facts of life force our thoughts to the recognition of the fall, just as the attractions and repulsions of the heavenly bodies guide the astronomer to believe in the existence of an undiscovered star. And so it has come to pass that the doctrine of the fall has been at once the most scornfully rejected and the most generally acknowledged truth in all the Christian faith. Surely it is both true and strange that a belief which seems at first so hard to realise, which is often thrust away with a confident impatience, can yet appeal to a vast army of witnesses, often unconscious, sometimes incredulous, of that which they have attested.

2. Plato compares the soul in its present plight to the form of the god Glaueus, immortal and miserable, crippled and battered by the waves, disfigured by the clinging growth of shells and seaweed, so that the fishermen as they catch sight of him can hardly recognise his ancient nature. However it may be misnamed, however the moral sense may be crushed down to die under fatalism and despair, still there is the witness to a corruption, a perversion of humanity, wide as the world and deep as life. The witness of all our experience, of all current language, all common expectations, about the ways of man; the witness of daily life, of our journals with their columns full of ceaseless news about the fruits of sin; the witness, interpreting all else, of our own hearts, all converge upon the truth of a worldwide disfigurement of human life, a pervading taint through all our history, a sense of something wrong in the ethical basis of our nature, thrust into every movement of the will.

3. And then, it may be, our minds will stagger and our hearts begin to sink at the dreary vision of that vast desolating gloom: "there is none good, then, no, not one." There be many that say, "Who will show us any good?" The lies of the cynic and the pessimist claim kindred with our thoughts. "Yes," they say, "all this is true, and we had better simply acquiesce in it. What have we to do with those vague ideals which have made so many restless and miserable? When will men frankly recognise their proper level, and live there, and renounce those fruitless, wasteful hopes."

III. Oh, then, if that worst of all infidelity, the disbelief in goodness, the despair of holiness, begins to creep about your souls, then turn and gaze, where through the rent cloud the pure white light of God Himself has broken through. One break there is in that uniform tenor of our history, even the surpassing miracle of a sinless life.

IV. WE CAN AFFORD TO REALISE AND FACE THE SIN OF THE WORLD, THE SINFULNESS OF OUR OWN HEARTS; we can bear to know the worst because we know the best, because the darkness is past, and the true Light now shineth, BECAUSE WE CAN TURN FROM THE GLOOM OF SINFUL HISTORY TO THE PERFECT GLORY OF THE HOLINESS OF CHRIST. "In Him is no sin," "the Life was manifested, and we have seen it, and shew unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us." "The Word was God," "and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father."

(F. Paget, D. D.)

? —

1. All death is a solemn and fearful thing. When it comes to an old person one cannot help feeling it often a release; but when death comes suddenly to people in the prime of life we cannot help asking, "What is this death? this horrible thing which takes husbands from their wives, and children from their parents, and those who love from those who love them? What right has it here, under the bright sun, among the pleasant fields, destroying God's handiwork, just as it is growing to its prime of beauty and usefulness?" And there, by the bedside of the young at least, we do feel that death must be the enemy of a loving, life-giving God, as much as it is hated by poor mortal man. And then we feel there must be something between man and God. What right has death in the world if man has not sinned? And then we cannot help saying further, "This cruel death! it may come to me, young and healthy as I am. It may come tomorrow, this minute, by a hundred diseases or accidents which I cannot foresee or escape, and carry me off tomorrow. And where would it take me to?"

2. But perhaps you young people are saying to yourselves, "You are trying to frighten us, but you shall not. We know very well that it is not a common thing for a young person to die, and therefore the chances are that we shall not die young, and it will be time enough to think of death when death draws near." Well, what do you mean by chance? What are these wonderful "chances" which are to keep you alive for forty or fifty years more? Did you ever hear a chance? Did anyone ever see a great angel called Chance flying about keeping people from dying? What is chance, which you fancy so much stronger than God?

3. Perhaps you will say, "All we meant was that God's will was against our dying." Then why put the thought of God away by foolish words about chance? For it is God only who keeps you alive, and He who makes you live can also let you not live.

4. Then again, it is not as you fancy, that when God leaves you alone you live, and when He visits you you die — but the very opposite. Our bodies carry in them from the very cradle the seeds of death. We live because God does not leave us alone, but keeps down those seeds of disease and death by His Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life.

5. God's Spirit of Life is fighting against death in our bodies from the moment we are born. And, as Moses says, when He withdraws His Spirit then we are turned again to our dust. So that our living a long time or a short time does not depend on chance, or on our own health or constitution, but entirely on how long God may choose to keep down the death which is ready to kill us at any moment, and certain to kill us sooner or later,

6. And therefore I ask you, "For what does God keep you alive?" Will a man keep plants in his garden which bear neither fruit nor flowers; or stock on his farm which will only eat and never make profit; or a servant in his house who will not work? Much more, will a man keep a servant who will not only be idle himself, but quarrel with his fellow servants, and teach them to disobey their master? And yet God keeps thousands in His garden, and in His house, for years and years, while they are doing no good to Him, and doing harm to those around them.

7. Then why does not God rid Himself of them at once and let them die, instead of cumbering the ground? I know but one reason. If they were only God's plants, or His stock, or His servants, He might do so. But they are His children, redeemed by the blood of Christ. God preserves you from death because He loves you. Oh, do not make that truth an excuse for forgetting and disobeying your heavenly Father! Why does any good father help and protect his children? Not as beasts take care of their young, and then as soon as they are grown up cast them off and forget them; but because he wishes them to grow up like himself, to be a comfort, help, and pride to him. And God takes care of you and keeps you from death for the very same reason. God desires that you should grow up like Himself.

8. But if you turn God's grace in keeping you alive into an excuse for sinning — if, when God keeps you alive that you may lead good lives, you take advantage of His fatherly love to lead bad lives, and basely presume on His patience, what must you expect? God loves you, and you make that an excuse for not loving Him; God does everything for you, and you make that an excuse for doing nothing for God; God gives you health and strength, and you make that an excuse for using your health and strength just in the way He has forbidden. What can be more ungrateful? What can be more foolish? Oh, if one of our children behaved to us a hundredth part as shamefully as most of us behave to God, what should we think of them? Oh, beware! God is patient; but "if a man will not turn, He will whet His sword." And then, woe to the careless and ungrateful sinner. God will take from him his health, or his blind peace, and by affliction, shame, and disappointment, teach him that his youth, health, money, and all that he has, are his Father's gifts, and that his Father will take them away from him till he cries, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee. Father, take me back, for I have sinned, and am not worthy to be called Thy child."

(C. Kingsley, M. A.)

The apostle's argument turns entirely upon a parallel between the effects of Adam's sin and those of Christ's righteousness.


1. The point to be proved is this: Sin and death spread to all mankind "through one man." The proof is this: All men betwixt Adam and Moses died. Why? Not, argues St. Paul, for any transgression of their own, but for Adam's. At first one may object, sin was in the world. Why should they not have died for their own sin?(1) But remember that Paul has already taught us to discriminate betwixt sin committed against, and sin committed without law. Without a law sin may be present as a defect of nature or fault of will, but sin as a violation of statute can enter only where the statute is known. "Where no law is there can be no transgression" (Romans 4:15). This he now supplements by "sin is not imputed where there is no law" (ver. 13), axioms which carry with them all the stronger assurance of truth, that they not only echo, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," but are in accord with all that our Lord taught us concerning Him who is perfect love.(2) Turning next to the bearing of these legal maxims upon the position of men betwixt Adam and Moses, one cannot fail to see that it applies to them roundly, yet with qualifications. That they sinned "without law," and therefore "not after the fashion of Adam's transgression" (ver. 14), is true in the main, but only partially true of some of them. St. Paul himself implies as much by, "even over them that had not sinned" as Adam did. For although the ages before Moses, like the vast heathen world ever since, possessed no statute recognised to have come from heaven which denounced death as the penalty of transgression, such as Adam or the Jews had, and therefore could not break the statute with their eyes open in the same degree; yet they still retained (chap. Romans 1) the relics of natural conscience, testifying to the eternal rules of right and wrong, and testifying quite clearly enough to render some of them at least inexcusable. But in many of them conscience was undeveloped, false judgments; in all, it was defective, prescribing only certain rules of duty, and very feebly declaring, if at all, the penalty for disobedience. Besides, this inadequacy of the moral sense, being a portion of that subjection of human nature to the consequences of transgression for which we are seeking to account, needs itself to be accounted for.

2. After all fair deductions have been allowed for, let the question be put broadly: Were the sins committed without revealed law such that, had there been no antecedent transgression, they would have been in the bulk of cases punishable with eternal death? I think St. Paul's reasoning compels us to reply that they were not. Suppose it conceivable for a new-created moral agent to be left in that condition of imperfect knowledge of the Divine will, and to sin, his fall would not entail such a penalty as actually followed the transgression of Adam. Here, then, were men dying for thousands of years under a penalty which was originally attached to the express violation of a known law, but not attached to such sins as they themselves could commit. Before Adam there had been placed a clear command with precise warnings. Deliberately breaking it, he died. But his posterity could not so sin. Before them no such positive law had been set. To them no such consequences had been foretold. They made no such deliberate choice. Yet on all of them alike falls that same penalty. There is the fact. Is there any other explanation of it except St. Paul's, viz., that they died because Adam sinned; because the sentence passed on the first man for his transgression included his posterity in its sweep, be their personal offences what they might; and from this point of view it does supply an explanation for what must otherwise appear inexplicable. Moreover, if it be once admitted, it materially alters the complexion of all the subsequent sins of mankind. Those later sins of the "men without law" might not be such "transgressions" as of themselves to entail "death." Yet it is impossible to cut them off from their guilty origin in the "one transgression" which went before. If the race be one, and its whole sin be the fruit of one culpable and deliberate act of original rebellion, then it is clear that the total mass of moral evil must continue to be stained throughout with the dark hue of its origin.

3. It need hardly be added that in the case of adults under Christianity, sin has to a great extent recovered the type of Adam's first transgression. The law has long since been republished with plain spoken promises and penalties. Most of us have chosen evil with the clearest knowledge. Still, even we can be proved to underlie the penalty, not of our own, but of Adam's sin. For time was when we, too, had "no law." As children we knew nothing of sin or duty, of the Lawgiver or the penalty. Yet we were subject then to death.

4. All this, however, is not preliminary merely, but parenthetic. Now that the sweeping lapse of a race into death through the single act of a representative man has been proved, he is prepared at the close of ver. 14 to resume his interrupted sentence begun in ver. 12. He does not resume it, and the reason is very notable. He has caught sight of differences betwixt the two cases which make the parallel in some points a contrast. The cases are similar, but not equal. Is there any shortcoming? On the contrary, there is a glorious excess. The apostle, therefore, forbears to conclude his parallel, but abruptly exclaims —


1. One point of superiority is developed in ver. 15, "If by the trespass of the one," etc. Here are two similar procedures on the part of God, by which a vast multitude of human beings is involved in each case in the fate of one man. The one application of the principle turns out to be a terrific disaster which overwhelms countless millions of unhappy beings in the judgment and ruin that overtake their transgressing representative. The other is a blessed provision of Divine kindness brought in to remedy the sad efforts of the former through the action of a better and abler Representative. This argument bears upon us in two ways.

1. Do we feel the fact of universal condemnation for a single man's sin to be baffling? Then learn the best use to be made of this hard fact. If anything can relieve the difficulty it must be when grace pledges itself to save on the same principle. It is at least something to discover that it is a principle of the Divine administration and not an isolated occurrence. There comes out (to say no more) a certain noble consistency in God's treatment of us. When the very principle which, on its first application, in Adam worked disaster, turns its hand, so to say, in the gospel, to work a remedy for its own ruin, is there not a certain poetical justice, or dramatic completeness, in the two-fold scheme? May not the one be intended to be read in the light of the other? Is it not conceivable that both applications of the one rule to the Two Heads of Humanity may be requisite to make up that plan of Omniscience, of which each were but a broken part? At all events one thing is plain. The more keenly anyone feels the hardship of being involved without his will in the condemnation of another, with so much the more joyous eagerness ought he to embrace the parallel way of escape which has been brought nigh by the obedience of Another.

2. Are you one who stumbles, not at the fall in Adam, but at the doctrine of a free pardon in Christ apart from merits of your own? Have you never considered to whom you are indebted for your sin and condemnation? Surely, if you must take death at another man's hand, you may as well take life too! Is it not idle to quarrel with the way in which God would set us right, since it is in this very way that we have got wrong.

3. Another point of superiority arises: one of fact no less than of logic. "blot as through one that sinned, so is the gift," etc. (ver. 16, R.V). In order to men's condemnation there needed but the one trespass of Adam. In order to our being declared righteous, there need "many trespasses" to be wiped out in blood. The Restorer's work might perhaps have followed close on the fall by an instant purging of the "first transgression," and an instant replacing of the lapsed race in recovered purity again. There would in that event have been no room for the superiority St. Paul seems here to have in his eye. But it pleased the Most High to suffer sin to make its way through the world till it had grown to be a burden intolerable to the earth. Then at length came the "free gift" of an atonement which covered all. It is the same with individual experience. Is it not alter a man has for years abused his freedom to choose the wrong, adding to the inherited fault under which he is condemned a crowd of illegal acts, that the "free gift which justifies" is usually revealed to the soul? Then when it comes to a mature and experienced offender, grown penitent at last, how widely must it abound!

4. Another point of superiority remains: "If by the trespass of the One," etc. (ver. 17, R.V). The results to be expected from redemption are grander than the results of the fall were disastrous. This sounds fabulous, for the disaster entailed on mankind by the fall of "the One" might well appear too fearful ever to be overtopped by any subsequent advantage; that disaster Paul does not attempt to soften. "Death reigned"; it not only "entered" and "passed through unto all" (ver. 12), it is man's king. A triple crown it wears: over body, soul, and spirit. Over against this last extremity of ill, what can Jesus bring us of excelling good? Why, merely to undo that curse calls for the abolishing of death. To discrown our tyrant — no more; and set them free who are all their lifetime subject to his bondage; is not this as much as man's highest hope dare look for? But superabounding grace conceives a higher triumph. The Deliverer turns a rescue into a conquest. The curse is reversed till it becomes a blessing. Having brought back life, Christ raises life to glory. Death is discrowned, but only to set a crown upon the head of the redeemed. Not "death reigns" any more, but we "reign in life."

(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)





I. ADAM. Through Him we are all —

1. Subject to suffering, sorrow, and death.

2. Debarred from entrance into Paradise.

3. Kept from eternal happiness.

II. CHRIST. By Him —

1. Our sins are atoned for.

2. We are entirely freed from guilt.

3. Eternal life is granted to us.

4. Immortal happiness is our portion.

(J. H. Tarson.)


1. Both stand in a federal relation to mankind.

2. In both cases the effect of individual action is transferred.

3. The effect in both cases is coextensive.


1. The effects in the one case are — sin, condemnation, death; in the other — grace, justification, life.

2. In the one they follow by just consequence, in the other by grace.

3. In the one are suffered involuntarily; in the other are enjoyed by faith.

4. In the one they proceed from one sin; in the other cover many offences.

5. In the one they terminate in death; in the other in everlasting life.


1. If sin has destroyed all, grace can save all.

2. If sin has abounded, grace doth much more abound.

3. If sin has reigned unto death, grace reigns unto eternal life.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Where frost and snow have abounded in winter, there spring, sunshine, and gladness will abound still more. Where, at Passion tide, Herod's cunning, Pilate's cowardice, the Pharisees' envy, Judas's treachery, and the blind "Crucify, Crucify!" of the mob have risen high, there, on Easter morn, the hallelujah of angels and the Church around the triumphant Saviour will rise still higher. Here are contrasted —


1. What, I hear it objected, is it not arbitrary, and unjust that the fall of the first man should involve all succeeding generations, and scatter them, as children of misery, upon fields of thorn, as children of death upon churchyards? But, is it not simple matter of fact that some fate — explain it as we may — does, again and again, strew us, as children of misery and death, upon the earth?

2. And if further it be objected that, as Abraham was once nerved for endurance by the vision of his posterity, so Adam must needs have been deterred if the thought of the ruin hanging over the sons of men had been granted him in time. But was such prevision wanting? In the blessing, "Replenish the earth, and subdue it," Adam sees himself set at the head of an entire economy; his lot is to be the lot of his heirs and posterity. By the image of God born with him, by his covenant fellowship with God, by the paternal warnings of the hostile powers against which the Garden of Eden was to be fenced and guarded, by the highest aim of eternal life, were not the fullest means of security imparted to the first man?

3. And when the fall took place, think you that God should have annihilated the human race? Annihilation is no redemption, and to yield the game to Satan is no victory. Then only is evil overcome by good when Divine love makes itself a sacrifice. Who will doubt, when over against the one Adam stands the one Christ, who with, "It is written," wields a victorious sword, and becomes the dispenser of every heavenly blessing.


1. You are familiar with the doubt of the unity of the race, which appeals to the various shapes of the skull, different complexions, divers tongues, etc. But Paul believes in the unity of the race, and knows one family of Adam, when, in Athens, he speaks of one blood, of which the nations are made; and when he says, "Is God the God of the Jews only? — is He not the God of the Gentiles also?"

2. And what sombre witnesses to this unity Paul summons! First sin itself, which shows itself far as humanity extends. But at the same time he points to death, which is the lot of all men, not merely of those struggling with poverty, but of those nursed in luxury; not merely of those feeble through age, but of children with their morning and May tide freshness; not merely of those branded with vice, but to the truly good, comes the stern creditor who demands of all the payment of the debt of life!

3. Nothing is more unnatural than for God's image, instead of declining gently, and then being quietly transplanted; instead of entering into glory by a transfiguration, to fall a prey to violent dissolution, and be devoured by corruption. In outer death an inner death is imaged; the sting of death is sin, the wages of sin is death. Sin is absence from the source of all life — from God — and is therefore deadly in nature. The one separation is punished by the other; separation between the soul and God by separation between soul and body; yea, by a separation which rends in twain the soul itself. But if a house be divided against itself, how can it stand?

III. THE CONDEMNATION ON ALL AND THE ABOUNDING GRACE FOR ALL. "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?" Nothing more wretched than man in his sin, in his death — a lost son, a dethroned king. "What is man, that Thou visitest him?" Nothing higher in dignity than man; far above angels; since the Son of God assumes human nature, and by His incarnation, passion, resurrection, outpouring of His Spirit, makes fallen humanity partaker of the Divine nature. Four dispensations of God with mankind are here to be described. The original one in Paradise; the second in the fall, where, without intermission, death is preaching repentance, and to every life history affixes the black seal bearing the inscription, "And he died"; the third dispensation under the law, which came between the fall and the rising again, that sin might abound, that is, become more and more perceptible; the fourth in the fulness of time. Now that you have been driven from the first, you will not deny. Are you living in the second, in utter indifference, a man utterly without conscience, not even alarmed by a command of God? Or are you living under the law, pursued by sin, not merely as sin but also as a punishment? Or do you know, in addition to the weakness and guilt of the first Adam, the power, the riches, and the grace of the second? Have you, under the Cross, come under the shelter of the strong arm, mightier than a Samson who, in his death, embracing the pillars of the idol temple, buried four thousand of the worshippers? Have you felt the arm which, stretched out in Golgotha, overturned the idol temple of sin and the gloomy prison house of death? And as David once cut off the giant's head with the giant's sword, have you learnt under the Cross that death is conquered by death; death as the wages of sin by death as a sacrificial offering?

(R. Koegel, D. D.)


1. Stated (ver. 12).

2. Proved (vers. 13, 14).


1. The free gift transcends the offence, it reaches not only as far, but in those who receive it effects much more good than the offence did evil (ver. 15); for the free gift neutralises the effect not only of one offence but of many (ver. 16); not only destroys death but brings abundance of life (ver. 17).


1. One offence (marg) occasioned the condemnation of all; one righteousness (marg.) provides for the justification of all (ver. 18).

2. In one man many sinned, in one shall many be made righteous (ver. 19).


1. Grace abounds over sin (ver. 20).

2. Death is swallowed up of life.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Mediation is the principle on which human society is based and constituted. Ever since the creation of the first pair, all have been born and preserved by it. The dominion conferred on the man in Eden (Genesis 1:28) was not to be achieved singly, but in society. Even here our blessings come through mediation. Yet not our blessings only. The fact that men have it in their power to do us good involves also that of doing us mischief. This constitution of society is precisely that which made it possible for the first man to involve himself and all his posterity in sin and ruin, and for the "Second Man" to provide salvation and glory (ver. 18).


1. Adam was its natural head; but he was much more. All men are affected by the conduct of Adam, in a wider sense than that in which children are affected by the conduct of their parents. All children born into the world to the end of time will be affected by the one offence of Adam just in the same sense and to the same extent as his own children were affected by it. And this is not simply because he was the natural head. Noah was also the natural head of all the men who have existed since the deluge; but it is never intimated that he, by his one recorded sin, entailed a curse upon all his posterity. But it is plainly affirmed that Adam, by his one offence, has done so. For he was also the federal head of the race. God dealt with the entire race in and through him. To him were entrusted the interests of all his descendants. Had he proved faithful these would have been born into the world holy and happy, and would each have commenced his probation on terms as favourable as Adam's. But he failed us, and thus induced our ruin.

2. Now Adam is a type of Christ in that he was a Divinely constituted representative of the race. Adam was created in the "image" of God. But Christ, the beloved Son, "is the image of the invisible God." The race, therefore, in its very creation, sustained special relationship to Him. And it was fitting that He, whose image in man had been marred by the fall of the first man, should Himself become man in order to its restoration. For we are predestinated to be conformed to His "image." Adam, as our first head and representative, failed in his fidelity, and thereby betrayed and ruined our interests; Christ, our Second, has gloriously succeeded.

II. THE LIKENESS BETWEEN ADAM AND CHRIST IS ONE OF ESSENTIAL OPPOSITION, because that Adam has affected us for evil, Christ for good.

1. The judgment to condemnation on account of Adam's sin involved the penalty of moral death for all his posterity. Not that any positive evil principle was infused into our nature, but rather that the Holy Spirit, in fellowship with whom all spiritual life is sustained, was then penally withdrawn, and that being so men became "dead in trespasses and sins." "In Adam all died."

2. The judgment to condemnation on account of Adam's sin was a judgment to bodily death (Genesis 3:17-19). And this in all probability resulted from the penal withdrawment of the Spirit of life. Naturally liable to death man must have been; i.e., regarded as a creature whose animal life is an organic successional growth, sustained by material food. So long as he remained innocent he had the pledge and sacrament provided against this liability in "the tree of life." But as soon as he had sinned, he was subjected to the vanity which was the lot of the lower creatures, denied access to the tree of life, and surrendered to the dissolution which had already been the natural termination of the existence of the inferior orders. But "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22; John 5:28, 29). And though the restoration of immortal life to the bodies of His people is deferred, the quickening Spirit is a pledge and earnest that He who raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken their mortal bodies (Romans 8:11).

3. The judgment to death, on account of sin, was a judgment to everlasting death. As "grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord," even so (unobstructed) sin reigns in death, by offending Adam, unto everlasting death. In the very nature of things it cannot be otherwise. For to doom a man to death at all is to doom him to endless death. No one ever thinks of a criminal being sentenced to death for so many years. The dead have no power to recover life. And this is as true of spiritual as of physical death. The fact is that sin reigns in death, and by death is its dread dominion sustained.


1. Adam entailed upon us the curse of one offence only. He doubtless committed other sins; but they have involved us in no disadvantages. If, therefore, Christ had made provision for nothing beyond the cancelling of the judgment on account of that, the parallel between the first and Second Man would have been at that point complete. But He has done much more (ver. 16). And not only so, but being justified, there is provision made to secure our continued acceptance. Nor does even a lapse cut off the offender from hope: but, because God has just ground on which to "multiply to pardon," a fallen David and a backsliding Peter may be restored. Therefore the word of exhortation (Galatians 6:1), and the word of compassionate love (1 John 2:1, 2). Thus richly does the grace of Christ super-abound over the curse from Adam.

2. The apostle's position clearly implies that the number of the saved through Christ will far exceed that of the finally lost through Adam. It is not intended to intimate, however, that any are really lost on account of Adam's sin alone. The apostle clearly assumes that there are none such (vers. 15, 18). And have we not an assurance here that all infants, incapables, etc., shall through Christ inherit everlasting life? But those who resist grace and refuse salvation thereby make the sin of Adam their own, and in that sin they shall perish. But —

3. The apostle further intimates that those who avail themselves of the redemption which is by Jesus Christ shall be elevated to a far higher state of glory and blessedness than could have been inherited by unfallen man (vers. 17, 20, 21). Conclusion:

1. This review of the Divine administration calls for ardent and adoring gratitude.

2. We must learn to regard sin with ever-increasing hatred:

3. Let all avail themselves with glad alacrity of the gift of grace through Christ.

(W. Tyson.)

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