by John Witherspoon
THE whole revelation of the will of God to mankind, both in the Old Testament and the New, proceeds upon the supposition that they are sinners; that is to say, transgressors of his law, and liable to the stroke of his justice. This only can give meaning to the doctrine of redemption. None can understand, at least none can relish or embrace it, unless they believe, and are persuaded of this preliminary truth.
What I have now said, appears from many express passages of the holy scriptures; and is particularly evident from the general strain, and from the very structure, of the epistle to the Romans. In it the apostle, who had never been at Rome, gives a full and particular account of the doctrine of Christ; and he lays the foundation for this by a distinct and laboured proof, that all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin. In imitation of his example, I intend to begin my discourses on practical religion, by endeavoring to impress your minds with a sense of the same truth. This must lead the way to the saving knowledge of the Redeemer; and as he only can build securely, who takes care that every part of the superstructure rest immediately or ultimately upon the foundation, it is as necessary to be remembered by saints, as to be received by sinners.
It may perhaps, on a flight view, appear to be superfluous. 'All mankind,' some will say, 'are ready to acknowledge that they are sinners; and there is great reason to believe they are sincere in this confession.' But, my brethren, a little reflection may convince you, that this general acknowledgment is either very insincere, or very imperfect and defective. It is plainly a light sense of sin that enables the multitude to sleep in security. It is plainly a light sense of sin that betrays men into the commission of it, and emboldens them to continue in it. It is plainly a light sense of sin that blunts the edge of all the threatenings in the word of God, and the admonitions of his providence. Is it not from a light sense of sin, that when the preaching of the gospel is not wholly deserted, its inestimable truths are received without thankfulness, and heard without profit?
For these reasons, I propose, through the assistance of divine grace, to discourse a little on the words of the apostle now read: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God:"
And, in so doing, shall
1. Endeavor to confirm the truth contained in them, That all mankind are sinners, or transgressors of the law of God, and liable to his righteous judgment. And,
2. Shall make a practical improvement of the subject.
Table of Contents
SERMON I: All Mankind by Nature under Sin - Romans 3:23
SERMON II: The sinner without excuse before God - Psalm 130:3
SERMON III: Hope of forgiveness with God - Psalm 130:4
SERMON IV: The Nature of Faith - 1 John 3:23
SERMON V: Christ's death a proper atonement for Sin - 1 John 2:2
SERMON VI: The love of Christ in Redemption - Rev. 1:5
SERMON VII: Redemption the subject of admiration to the angels - 1 Peter 1:12
SERMON VIII: Glorying in the Cross - Galatians 6:14
SERMON IX: The world crucified by the cross of Christ - Gal. 6:14
SERMON X: The world crucified by the cross of Christ - Gal. 6:14
SERMON XI: Fervency and importunity in Prayer - Genesis 32:26
SERMON XII: Fervency and importunity in Prayer - Genesis 32:26
SERMON XIII: Obedience and sacrifice compared - 1 Sam. 15:22
SERMON XIV: The security of those who trust in God - Prov. 18:10
SERMON XV: The nature and extent of visible religion - Matth. 5:16
SERMON XVI: The happiness of the Saints in Heaven - Rev. 7:15