ďNot as the offence, so also is the free gift.Ē
The original sermon is found here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/sermons.vi.vi.html
Edited for Red River Meeting House, October 2007......
1. How exceeding common, and how bitter, is the outcry against our first parent Adam for the mischief which he not only brought upon himself, but upon all his descendents! It was by his willful rebellion against God that "sin entered into the world." "By one man's disobedience," as the Apostle observes, all that followed, "were made, sinners:" Not only deprived of the favor of God, but also of this image of all virtue, righteousness, and true holiness; and therefore sunk, partly into the image of the devil, -- in pride, malice, and all other diabolical temperaments; partly into the image of the brute, being fallen under the dominion of brutal passions and primitive appetites. Hence also death entered into the world, with all his forerunners and attendants, -- pain, sickness, and a whole train of uneasy, as well as unholy passions and desires.
2. "For all this we may thank Adam," has echoed down from generation to generation. This self-same charge has been repeated in every age and every nation where the word of God is known and in which alone this grand and important event has been revealed to the children of men. Has not your heart, and probably your lips too, joined in the same accusation? How few are there of those who believe the scriptural relation of the fall of man that have not entertained the same thought concerning our first parent? Severely condemning him that, through willful disobedience to the sole command of his Creator, as the poet Milton says, Brought death into the world, and all our woe!
3. Now it would be well if the charge stopped here: But it is certain it does not. It cannot be denied that it frequently glances from Adam back to his Creator. Have not thousands even of those that are called Christians, taken the liberty to call Godís mercy, if not his justice also, into question on this very account? Some, indeed, have done this a little more modestly, in an oblique and indirect manner; but others have thrown aside the mask, and asked, "Did not God foresee that Adam would abuse his liberty? And did he not know the baneful consequences which this must naturally have on all his posterity? And why, then, did he permit that disobedience? Was it not easy for the Almighty to have prevented it?" -- He certainly did foresee the whole. This cannot be denied: For "known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world;" rather, from all eternity. And it was undoubtedly in his power to prevent it; for he hath all power both in heaven and earth.
But it was known to him, at the same time, that it was best, upon the whole, not to prevent it. He knew that as it says in the scripture, "not as the transgression, so is the free gift;" Meaning that the evil resulting from the former was not as the good resulting from the latter, -- not worthy to be compared with it. He saw that to permit the fall of the first man was far best for mankind in general; that abundantly more good than evil would accrue to the descendents of Adam by his fall; that if "sin abounded" thereby over all the earth, yet grace "would much more abound;" yea, and abound to every individual of the human race, unless refused by their own choice.
4. It is exceeding strange that hardly anything has been written on this subject; nay that it has been so little considered or understood by Christians in general; especially considering that it is not a matter of mere curiosity, but a truth of the deepest importance to, - as the poet says, assert a gracious Providence, And justify the ways of God with men
O may the Lover of men open the eyes of our understanding to perceive clearly this important event. That by the fall of Adam mankind has not lost, but gained a capacity, of first, being more holy and more happy on earth, and, Secondly, of being more happy in heaven, than otherwise they could have been!
1. First, mankind in general have gained, by the fall of Adam, a capacity of attaining more holiness and happiness on earth than it would have been possible for them to attain if Adam had not fallen. For if Adam had not fallen, Christ would have not died.
Nothing can be more clear than this; nothing more undeniable: The more thoroughly we consider this point the more deeply shall we be convinced of it. For unless all the partakers of human nature had received that deadly wound through Adam, it would not have been needful for the Son of God to take our nature upon him. Do you not see that this was the very ground of his coming into the world? As it says in Romans, "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: And thus death passed upon all," (Rom. 5:12) Was it not to remedy this very thing that "the Word was made flesh," that "as in Adam all died, so in Christ all" might "be made alive?" Unless, then, many had been made sinners by the disobedience of one, by the obedience of one, many would not have been made righteous:
So you see, there would have been no room for that amazing display of the Son of God's love to mankind: There would have been no occasion for his being "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." It could not then have been said, to the astonishment of all the hosts of heaven "God so loved the world," yea, the ungodly world, which had no thought or desire of returning to him, "that he gave his Son" out of his bosom, his only-begotten Son, "to the end that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Neither could we then have said,: God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself;" or, that God "made him to be sin," that is, a sin-offering, "for us, - He who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God through him." There would have been no such occasion for such "an Advocate with the Father," as "Jesus Christ the righteous;" neither for his appearing "at the right hand of God, to make intercession for us" - if Adam had not fallen.
2. So if Adam had not fallen, What then would be the necessary end result of this? It is this: There could then have been no such thing as faith in God thus loving the world, giving his only Son for us men, and for our salvation. There could have been no such thing as faith in the Son of God, as "loving us and giving himself for us." There could have been no faith in the Spirit of God, as renewing the image of God in our hearts, as raising us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness. Indeed the whole privilege of justification by faith could have had no existence; there could have been no redemption in the blood of Christ; neither could Christ have been "made of God unto us," either to be "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification" or "redemption."
3. And the same grand blank, which would have been in our faith, must likewise have been in our love. We might have loved the Author of our being, the Father of angels and men as our Creator and Preserver: We might have said, "O Lord our Governor, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!" -- But we could not have loved him under the nearest and dearest relation, -- as delivering up his Son for us all. We might have loved the Son of God, as being "the brightness of his Father's glory, the express image of his person;" (although this ground seems to belong rather to the inhabitants of heaven than earth) but we could not have loved him as "bearing our sins in his own body on the tree," making a full sacrifice and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world." We could not have been "made conformable to his death," nor have known "the power of his resurrection." We could not have loved the Holy Ghost, as revealing to us the Father and the Son; as opening the eyes of our understanding; bringing us out of darkness into his marvelous light; renewing the image of God in our soul, and sealing us unto the day of redemption.
So that, in truth, we would not have known the glory of these grand principles -- "By grace ye are saved through faith;" and, "Jesus Christ is of God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption" if Adam had not fallen.
4. We see then, what unspeakable advantage we derive from the fall of our first parent with regard to faith; -- Faith both in God the Father, who spared not his own Son, his only Son, but "wounded him for our transgressions," and "bruised him for our iniquities:" and in God the Son, who poured out his soul for us transgressors, and washed us in his own blood. We see what advantage we derive therefrom with regard to the love of God; both of God the Father and God the Son. The chief ground of this love, as long as we remain in the body, is plainly declared by the Apostle: "We love Him, because He first loved us." But the greatest instance of His love would never been given, - if Adam had not fallen.
5. And as our faith both in God the Father and the Son, receives an unspeakable increase, if not its very being, from this grand event, as does also our love both of the Father and the Son; so does the love of our neighbour also, our benevolence to all mankind, which cannot but increase in the same proportion with our faith and love of God. For who does not comprehend the strength of the connection drawn by the loving Apostle: "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another?" If God SO loved us, -- observe, the stress of the argument lies on this very point: SO loved us, as to deliver up his only Son to die a cursed death for our salvation. Beloved, what manner of love is this wherewith God hath loved us; so as to give his only Son, in glory equal with the Father, in Majesty co-eternal?
What manner of love is this wherewith the only-begotten Son of God hath loved us so as to empty himself, as far as possible, of his eternal Godhead; as to divest himself of that glory which he had with the Father before the world began; as to take upon him the form of a servant, being found in fashion as a man; and then, to humble himself still further, by "being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross!" Therefore if God SO loved us, how ought we to love one another! But this motive to brotherly love would have been totally wanting if Adam had not fallen. Consequently, we could not then have loved one another in so high a degree as we may now. Nor could there have been that height and depth in the command of our blessed Lord, "As I have loved you, So love one another."
6. Furthermore: Had there been neither natural nor moral evil in the world, what must have become of patience, meekness, gentleness, longsuffering? It is manifest they could have had no being; seeing all these have evil for their object. If, therefore, evil had never entered into the world, neither could these have had any place in it. For who could have returned good for evil, had there been no evil-doer in the universe? How would it have been possible, on that supposition, to "overcome evil with good?"
Perhaps you will say, "That all these graces might have been divinely infused into the hearts of men?" Undoubtedly they might: But if they had, there would have been no use or exercise for them. Whereas in the present state of things we never need to wait long for an occasion to exercise them: And the more they are exercised, the more all our graces are strengthened and increased. And in the same proportion as our confidence in God, our patience and fortitude, our meekness, gentleness, and longsuffering, together with our faith, and love of God and man, increases, then so does our happiness increase, even in the present world.
1. There is one advantage more that we reap from Adam's fall, which is not unworthy our attention. Unless in Adam all had died, then every descendant of Adam, every child of man, would have had to personally answer for his sin to God without the promise of a redeemer. It seems to be a necessary consequence of this, that if once anyone had fallen, once violated any command of God, there would have been no possibility of their rising again; there was no help, but they would perish without any hope of redemption. For that covenant knew not to show mercy: The word was, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."
Now which of us would not rather be on the footing he is now, -- under a covenant of mercy? Who would wish to hazard a whole eternity upon one mistake? Is it not infinitely more desirable to be in a state wherein, though encompassed with infirmities, yet we do not run such a desperate risk, but if we fall, we may rise again? -- wherein we may say,
My trespasses grow up to heaven;
But far above the skies,
In Christ abundantly forgiven,
I see thy mercies rise!
2. In Christ! Let me entreat every serious person once more to fix his attention here. All that has been said, all that can be said, on these subjects, centers in this single point: The fall of Adam produced the death of Christ. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! Yea,
Let earth and heaven agree,
Angels and men be join'd,
To celebrate with me
The Saviour of mankind;
To'adore the all-atoning Lamb,
And bless the sound of Jesuís name!
If God had prevented the fall of man, "the Word" would have never been "made flesh;" nor would we have ever "seen his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father." Those mysteries never would have been displayed "which the" very "angels desire to look into."
Methinks this consideration swallows up all the rest, and should never be out of our thoughts. Unless "by one man judgment had come upon all men to condemnation," neither angels nor mankind would have ever have known "the unsearchable riches of Christ."
3. See, then, upon the whole, how little reason we have to regret the fall of our first parent; since from it we may derive such unspeakable advantages, both in time and eternity. See how small a reason there is for questioning the mercy of God in permitting that event to take place; since therein mercy, by infinite measure, rejoices over judgment. Where then is the man that presumes to blame God for not preventing Adam's sin? Should we not rather bless God from the ground of the heart, for therein laying the grand scheme of man's redemption, and making way for that glorious manifestation of his wisdom, holiness, justice, and mercy?
If, indeed, God had decreed, before the foundation of the world, that millions of men would dwell in everlasting burnings, because Adam sinned hundreds or thousands of years before they were born. I know not who could thank him for this, unless the devil and his angels: Seeing, on this supposition, all those millions of unhappy spirits would be plunged into hell by Adam's sin, without any possible advantage from it. Ö But, blessed be God, this is not the case. Such a decree never existed. On the contrary, every one born of a woman may be the recipient of unspeakable grace and mercy of a loving God: And none ever was or can be a loser, but by his own choice.
4. So you see there is really no reason to defend the mercy of God: God hath answered for himself. He made man in his own image; a spirit endued with understanding and liberty. Man, abusing that liberty, produced evil; brought sin and pain into the world. This God permitted, by bestowing on all who would receive it, a fuller manifestation of his wisdom, justice, and mercy, -- and thereby an infinitely greater happiness than they could possibly have attained if Adam had not fallen.
5. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" Although a thousand particulars of "his judgments and of his ways are unsearchable" to us, and past our understanding; yet may we discern the general scheme running through time into eternity.
"According to the counsel of his own will," the plan God had laid before the foundation of the world, he created the parent of all mankind in his own image; and he permitted all men to be made sinners, by the disobedience of that one man, so that, by the obedience of one, namely Jesus the Christ, all who receive the free gift may be infinitely holier and happier to all eternity.
"Hallelujah," they cry,
"To the King of the sky,
To the great everlasting I AM;
To the Lamb that was slain,
And liveth again,
Hallelujah to God and the Lamb!"