"An Homily or Sermon Concerning the Nativity and Birth of Our Saviour Jesus Christ"
But, as the common nature of all men is in time of prosperity and wealth to forget not only themselves but also God, even so did the first man Adam: who, having but one commandment at God's hand, namely, that he should not eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and ill, did not-withstanding most unmindfully (or rather most willfully) break it, in forgetting the strait charge of his Maker, and giving ear to the crafty suggestion of that wicked serpent, the devil. Whereby it came to pass that, as before he was blessed, so now he was accursed; as before he was loved, so now he was abhorred; as before he was most beautiful and precious, so now he was most vile and wretched, in the sight of his Lord and Maker... insomuch that now he seemed to be nothing else but a lump of sin, and therefore by the just judgment of God was condemned to everlasting death.
This so great and miserable a plague, if it had rested on Adam, who first offended, it had been so much the easier, and might the better have been borne. But it fell not only on him, but also on his posterity and children forever; so that the whole brood of Adam's flesh should sustain the selfsame fall and punishment which their forefather by his offense most justly had deserved. St. Paul in the fifth chapter to the Romans saith, "By the offense of only Adam the fault came upon all men to condemnation, and by one man's disobedience many were made sinners" (Rom 5:18-19). By which words we are taught that, as in Adam all men universally sinned, so in Adam all men universally received the reward of sin, that is to say, became mortal and subject unto death, having in themselves nothing but everlasting damnation of both body and soul. "They became," as David saith, "Corrupt and abominable; they went all out of the way; there was none that did good, no not one" (Psa 14:1,3). O what a miserable and woful state was this, that the sin of one man should destroy and condemn all men, that nothing in all the world might be looked for but only pangs of death and pangs of Hell! Had it been any marvel if mankind had been utterly driven to desperation, being thus fallen from life to death, from salvation to destruction, from Heaven to Hell?
But behold the great goodness and tender mercy of God in this behalf. Albeit Man's wickedness and sinful behavior was such that it deserved not in any part to be forgiven, yet-to the intent he might not be clean destitute of all hope and comfort in time to come-He ordained a new covenant, and made a sure promise thereof; namely, that He would send a Messiah or Mediator into the world, which should make intercession, and put himself as a stay between both parties, to pacify the wrath and indignation conceived against sin, and to deliver Man out of the miserable curse and cursed misery whereinto he was fallen headlong by disobeying the will and commandment of his only Lord and Maker. This covenant and promise was first made unto Adam himself immediately after his Fall, as we read in the third of Genesis, what God said to the serpent on this wise: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; he shall break thine head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen 3:15).
Labels: Reformation Theology