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4. Man's Misery By The Fall

Q-19: WHAT IS THE MISERY OF THAT ESTATE WHEREINTO MAN FELL?

A: All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.

'And were by nature children of wrath.' Eph 2:3. Adam left an unhappy portion to his posterity, Sin and Misery. Having considered the first of these, original sin, we shall now advert to the misery of that state. In the first, we have seen mankind offending; in the second, we shall see him suffering. The misery ensuing from original sin is two-fold.

I. Privative. By this first hereditary sin we have lost communion with God. Adam was God's familiar, his favourite; but sin has put us all out of favour. When we lost God's image, we lost his acquaintance. God's banishing Adam out of paradise hieroglyphically showed how sin has banished us out of God's love and favour.

II. Positive. In four things. 1. Under the power of Satan. 2. Heirs of God's wrath. 3. Subject to all the miseries of this life. 4. Exposed to hell and damnation.

[1] The first misery is, that by nature we are ‘under the power of Satan,' who is called ‘The prince of the power of the air.' Eph 2:2. Before the fall man was a free denizen, now a slave; before, a king on the throne, now in fetters. And whom is man enslaved to? To one that is a hater of him. This was an aggravation of Israel's servitude. ‘They that hated them ruled over them.' Psa 106:41. By sin we are enslaved to Satan, who is a hater of mankind, and writes all his laws in blood. Sinners before conversion are under Satan's command; as the ass at the command of the driver, so he does all the devil's drudgery. No sooner Satan tempts but he obeys. As the ship is at the command of the pilot, who steers it which way he will, so is the sinner at the command of Satan; and he ever steers the ship into hell's mouth. The devil rules all the powers and faculties of a sinner.

(1.) He rules the understanding. He blinds men with ignorance, and then rules them; as the Philistines first put out Samson's eyes, and then bound him. Satan can do what he will with an ignorant man; because he does not see the error of his way, the devil can lead him into any sin. You may lead a blind man any whither. Omne peccatum fundatur in ignorantia [Every sin is founded upon ignorance].

(2.) Satan rules the will. Though he cannot force the will, yet he can, by temptation, draw it. ‘The lusts of your father ye will do.' John 8:44. He has got your hearts, and him ye will obey. ‘We will burn incense to the queen of heaven.' Jer 44:17. When the devil spurs a sinner by a temptation, he will over hedge and ditch break all God's laws, that he may obey Satan. Where then is free will, when Satan has such power over the will? ‘His lusts ye will do.' There's not any member of the body but is at the devil's service: the head to plot sin, the hands to work it, the feet to run the devil's errand. Grave jugum servitutis. Cicero. ‘Slavery is hateful to a noble spirit.' Satan is the worst tyrant; the cruelty of a cannibal, or Nero, is nothing to his. Other tyrants do but rule over the bodies, he over the conscience. Other tyrants have some pity on their slaves; though they work in the galley, they give them meat, let them have hours for rest; but Satan is a merciless tyrant, he lets them have no rest. What pains did Judas take! The devil would let him have no rest till he had betrayed Christ, and afterwards imbrued his hands in his own blood.

Use one: See here our misery by original sin; enslaved to Satan. Eph 2:2. Satan is said to work effectually in the children of disobedience. What a sad plague is it for a sinner to be at the will of the devil! Just like a slave, if the Turks bid him dig in the mines, hew in the quarries, tug at the oar, the slave must do it, he dares not refuse. If the devil bids a man lie or steal, he does not refuse; and, what is worse, he willingly obeys this tyrant. Other slaves are forced against their will: ‘Israel sighed by reason of their bondage,' Exod 2:23; but sinners are willing to be slaves, they will not take their freedom; they kiss their fetters.

Use two: Let us labour to get out of this deplorable condition into which sin has plunged us, and get from under the power of Satan. If any of your children were slaves, you would give great sums of money to purchase their freedom; and when your souls are enslaved, will ye not labour for their freedom? Improve the gospel. The gospel proclaims a jubilee to captives. Sin binds men, but the gospel looses them. Paul's preaching was ‘to turn men from the power of Satan to God.' Acts 26:18. The gospel star leads you to Christ; and if you get Christ, then you are made free, though not from the being of sin, yet from Satan's tyranny. ‘If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed.' John 8:36. You hope to be kings to reign in heaven, and will you let Satan reign in you now? Never think to be kings when you die, and slaves while you live. The crown of glory is for conquerors, not for captives. Oh get out of Satan's jurisdiction; get your fetters of sin filed off by repentance.

[2] ‘And were by nature the children of wrath.' Tertullian's exposition here is wrong, who by children of wrath, understands subjectively, that is, subject to wrath and passion; offending often in the irascible faculty of a wrathful spirit. By children of wrath, the apostle passively means heirs of wrath, exposed to God's displeasure. God was once a friend, but sin broke the knot of friendship; now God's smile is turned into a frown; we are now bound over to the sessions, and become children of wrath. ‘And who knows the power of God's wrath?' Psa 90:11. ‘The wrath of a king is as the roaring of a lion.' Prov 19:12. How did Haman's heart tremble, when the king rose up from the banquet in wrath! Esth 7:7. But God's wrath is infinite, all other is but as a spark to a flame: wrath in God is not a passion, as in us; but it is an act of God's holy will, whereby he abhors sin, and decrees to punish it. This wrath is very dismal; it is this wrath of God that embitters afflictions in this life, for when sickness comes attended with God's wrath, it puts conscience into an agony. The mingling of the fire with the hail made it most terrible. Exod 9:24. So mingling God's wrath with affliction, makes it torturing; it is the nail in the yoke. God's wrath, when but in a threatening (as a shower hanging in the cloud), made Eli's ears to tingle; what is it then, when this wrath is executed? It is terrible when the king rates and chides a traitor; but it is more dreadful when he causes him to be set upon the rack, or to be broke upon the wheel. ‘Who knows the power of God's wrath?' While we are children of wrath we have nothing to do with any of the promises; they are as the tree of life, bearing several sorts of fruit, but we have no right to pluck one leaf. ‘Children of wrath.' Eph 2:3.' Strangers to the covenants of promise,' verse 12. The promises are as a fountain sealed. While we are in the state of nature, we see nothing but the flaming sword; and, as the apostle says, ‘There remains nothing but a fearful looking for of fiery indignation.' Heb 10:27. While children of wrath we are ‘heirs to all God's curses.' Gal 3:10. How can the sinner eat and drink in that condition? Like Damocles, banquet, who while he sat at meat with a sword hanging over his head by a small thread could have little stomach to eat; so the sword of God's wrath and curse hangs every moment over a sinner's head. We read of a flying roll, written with curses. Zech 5:2. A roll written with curses goes out against every person that lives and dies in sin. God's curse blasts wherever it comes. There is a curse on the sinner's name, a curse on his soul, a curse on his estate and posterity, a curse on the ordinances. Sad, if all a man eats should turn to poison; yet the sinner eats and drinks his own damnation at God's table. Thus it is before conversion. As the love of God makes every bitter thing sweet, so the curse of God makes every sweet thing bitter.

Use one: See our misery by the fall. Heirs of wrath. And is this estate to be rested in? If a man be fallen under the king's displeasure, will he not labour to re-ingratiate himself into his favour? Oh let us flee from the wrath of God! And whither should we fly, but to Jesus Christ? There is none else to shield off the wrath of God from us. ‘Jesus has delivered us from the wrath to come.' I Thess 1:10.

[3] Subject to all outward miseries. All the troubles incident to man's life are the bitter fruits of original sin. The sin of Adam has ‘subjected the creature to vanity.' Rom 8:20. Is it not a part of the creature's vanity, that all the comforts below will not fill the heart, any more than the mariner's breath can fill the sails of a ship? ‘In the midst of his sufficiency he shall be in straits.' Job 20:22. There is still something wanting, and a man would have more; the heart is always hydropsical; it thirsts, and is not satisfied. Solomon put all the creatures into a crucible; and when he came to extract the spirit and quintessence, there was nothing but froth, ‘all was vanity.' Eccl 1:2. Nay, it is vexing vanity; not only emptiness, but bitterness, our life is labour and sorrow: we come into the world with a cry, and go out with a groan. Psa 90:10. Some have said, that they would not live the life they have lived over again, because their life has had more water in it than wine; more water of tears, than wine of joy. Quia est diu vivere nisi diu torqueri [Long life is merely long torment]. Augustine. ‘Man is born to trouble.' Job 5:7. Every one is not born heir to land, but he is born heir to trouble. As well separate weight from lead as trouble from man. We do not finish our troubles in this life, but change them. Trouble is the vermin bred out of the putrid matter of sin. Whence all our fears but from sin? ‘There is torment in fear.' I John 4:18. Fear is the ague of the soul, sets it shaking; some fear want, others alarms, others fear loss of relations; if we rejoice, it is with trembling. Whence all our disappointments of hopes but from sin? Where we look for comfort, there is a cross; where we expect honey, there we taste wormwood. Whence is it that the earth is filled with violence, that the wicked oppresses the man who is more righteous than he? Hab 1:13. Whence so much fraudulence in dealing, so much falseness in friendship, such crosses in relations? Whence is it children prove undutiful, and they that should be as the staff of the parents' age are a sword to pierce their hearts? Whence is it that servants are unfaithful to their masters? The apostle speaks of some who have entertained angels in their houses; Heb 13:2; but how oft, instead of entertaining angels in their houses, do some entertain devils! Whence all the mutinies and divisions in a kingdom? ‘In those days there was no peace to them that went out, nor to him that came in.' 2 Chron 15:5. All this is but the sour core in the apple which our first parents ate, the fruit of original sin. Besides, all the deformities and diseases of the body, fevers, convulsions, catarrhs are from sin, Macies et nova febrium ferris incubuit cohors [Famine and a new crop of fevers oppressed the lands]. There had never been a stone in the kidneys, if there had not been first a stone in the heart. Yea, the death of the body is the fruit and result of original sin. ‘Sin entered into the world, and death by sin.' Rom 5:12. Adam was made immortal, conditionally, if he had not sinned. Sin dug Adam's grave. Death is terrible to nature. Louis, king of France, forbade all that came into his court to mention the name of death in his ears. The Socinians say, that death comes only from the infirmities of the constitution. But the apostle says, Sin ushered in death into the world: by sin came death. Certainly, had not Adam ate of the tree of knowledge he had not died. ‘In the day thou eatest, thou shalt surely die,' Gen 2:17: implying, if Adam had not eaten, he should not have died. Oh then see the misery ensuing upon original sin! Sin dissolves the harmony and good temperature of the body, and pulls its frame in pieces.

[4] Original sin without repentance exposes to hell and damnation. This is the second death. Rev 20:14. Two things are in it:

(1.) Poena damni, Punishment of loss. The soul is banished from the beatific presence of God, in whose presence is fulness of joy.

(2.) Poena sensus, Punishment of sense. The sinner feels scalding vials of God's wrath. It is penetrating, abiding, John 3:36, and reserved, 2 Pet 2:17. If when God's anger be kindled but a little, and a spark or two of it flies into a man's conscience in this life, it be so terrible, what will it be when God stirs up all his anger? In hell there is the worm and the fire. Mark 9:44. Hell is the very accent and emphasis of misery; there is judgement without mercy. Oh what flames of wrath, what seas of vengeance, what rivers of brimstone, are poured out there upon the damned! Bellarmine is of opinion, That one glimpse of hell-fire were enough to make the most flagitious sinner to turn Christian; nay, live like a hermit, a most strict mortified life. What is all other fire to this but painted fire? Ejus adesse intolerabile, ejus abesse impossibile; ‘to bear it will be intolerable, to avoid it will be impossible.' And these hell torments are for ever, they have no period put to them. ‘They shall seek death, and shall not find it.' Rev 9:9. Origen fancied a fiery stream in which the souls of sinful men were to be purged after this life, and then to pass into heaven; but it is for ever. The breath of the Lord kindles that fire; and where shall we find engines or buckets to quench it? ‘And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night.' Rev 14:11. Thank original sin for all.

Use one: What sad thoughts should we have of this primitive original sin, that has created so many miseries! What honey can be got out of this lion? What grapes can we gather off this thorn? It sets heaven and earth against us. While we choose this bramble to rule, fire comes out of the bramble to devour us.

Use two: How are all believers bound to Jesus Christ, who has freed them from that misery to which sin has exposed them! ‘In whom we have redemption through his blood.' Eph 1:7. Sin has brought trouble and a curse into the world: Christ has sanctified the trouble, and removed the curse. Nay, he has not only freed believers from misery, but purchased for them a crown of glory and immortality. ‘When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.' I Pet 5:4.

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