Home > Systematic Theology > Duty of Repentance: Man’s Present State: Actual Sin- Book Fourth- Chapter 3- Section 1

Duty of Repentance: Man’s Present State: Actual Sin- Book Fourth- Chapter 3- Section 1

Book Fourth



The evils consequent on the disobedience of our first parents were not confined to them personally, but have fallen on their descendants also. Adam had been created in the image of God; but when that image had been lost by transgression, he begat a son in his own likeness.[1] So all his descendants since have borne the image of the earthly, fallen progenitor, and have been like him, not only in character, but in condition. The subject will be examined further in the following sections.



The sacred volume, in describing the state of the world before the flood, says that “the earth was filled with violence.”[3] The history of the period before the flood is very brief; yet we find, in the beginning of it, the murder of Abel by this brother;[4] in the progress of it, the bigamy of Lamech,[5] and the murder which he confessed to his wives; and, in the close of it, this account of the complete corruption of the earth, and the general prevalence of violence. The flood was sent in wrath for the transgressions of men; but its waters did not cleanse the earth from sin. Iniquities prevailed after the flood, as they had done before; and the condition of mankind, in all nations, was such as Paul has described in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. The children of Abraham were separated from the rest of mankind, and made a peculiar people to God; but, notwithstanding the religious advantages which they enjoyed, their history is little else than a record of rebellions against God; and judgments inflicted on them for their provocations. So common is wickedness in the earth, that it is called “the course of this world,”[6] and it is said, “the whole world lieth in wickedness.”[7]

From this universal corruption no man is exempt. “There is no man which sinneth not.”[8] All whom the Spirit of God brings to a knowledge of themselves confess, “In many things we offend all;”[9] and they pray, “Forgive us our sins.”[10] If others make no confessions of sin, and no petitions for pardon, it is because of the blindness and hardness of their hearts.

He who looks into the state of society around him, finds proof of man’s wickedness. Crimes abound everywhere; and the earth is filled with violence, as it was of old. Laws restrain the crimes and violence of men; but the very necessity of laws demonstrates the wickedness of mankind. War and oppression make up, in great measure, the history of our race; and innumerable deeds of wickedness, which never find a place in the historic record, are written in God’s book of remembrance, and will be brought to light in that day, when men shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body.

The actual transgressions of men consist in doing what God has forbidden, and in leaving undone what he has commanded. The latter are called sins of omission; the former, sins of commission. With both these kinds of transgression all men are more or less chargeable. They who abstain from grosser crimes have, nevertheless, committed many sins, and omitted many duties. But sin, in the overt act, constitutes only a very small part of man’s sinfulness, as will appear in the next section.

[1] Gen. v. 3.

[2] Rom. iii. 9–19; 1 John v. 19; Eph. ii. 2, 3.

[3] Gen. vi. 11.

[4] Gen. iv. 8.

[5] Gen. iv. 19–23.

[6] Eph. ii.2.

[7] 1 John v. 19.

[8] 2 Ch. vi. 36.

[9] James iii. 2.

[10] Luke xi. 4.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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