Of sin in general

The questions which are usually discussed, in relation to sin in general, are chiefly the following:
From what does it appear that sin is in the world, and also in us?
What is sin?
How many kinds of sin are there?
What is the origin of sin, or the causes of it?
What are the effects of sin?

I. From what does it appear that sin is in the world and that it is also in us?

That sin is in the world, and also in us, may be proven by a variety of arguments. First, God declares that we are all guilty of sin, which declaration ought especially to be believed, in as much as God is the searcher of the heart, and an eye-witness to all our actions. (Gen. 6:5; 18:21. Jer. 17:9. Rom. 1:21; 3:10; 7:18. Ps. 14 & 53. Isaiah 59.) Secondly, the law of God recognizes sin, as we have already shown, in our exposition of the third and fifth questions of the Catechism, where these declarations of the law were referred to: "By the law is the knowledge of sin." "The law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression." "The law entered that the offence might abound." "I had not known sin, but by the law." (Rom. 3:20; 4:15; 5:20; 7:7.) Thirdly, conscience convinces, and convicts us of sin; for God even apart from his written law, has preserved in us certain general principles of the natural law, sufficient to accuse and condemn us. "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them." "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these not having the law, are a law unto themselves; which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts, the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing, one another." (Rom. 1:19; 2:13-14.) Fourthly, punishments and death to which all men are subject; yea, our cemeteries, grave-yards, and places of execution, are all so many sermons upon the evil of sin; because God being just never inflicts punishment upon any of his creatures unless it be for sin, according to what the Scriptures say: "Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." "The wages of sin is death." "Cursed is every one that confirmeth not all the words of this law, to do them." (Rom. 5:12; 6:23. Deut. 27:26.)
The benefit of this question is:
That we may have matter for constant humiliation and penitence.

That we may turn away from, and not be ensnared by the errors and corruptions of the Anabaptists and Libertines, who deny that they have any sin, in contradiction to the express declaration of the word of God, which affirms that, "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves." (John 1:8.) And also in contradiction to all experience; for they themselves frequently do many things which God in his law declares to be sins, but which they affirm, although most falsely, to be the workings of the Holy Spirit. They also live in misery, being subject to disease and death, no less than others, which, if they were not sinners, would certainly be in opposition to the rule, and law, Where there is no sin, there death is not.

Does any one ask, whether we may not also obtain a knowledge of sin from the gospel, since the gospel, in exhorting us to seek for righteousness, not in ourselves, but out of ourselves in Christ, declares us sinners? We reply, that the gospel does indeed pronounce us sinners, but not in particular as the law does; neither does it avowedly teach what, and how manifold sin is, what it deserves, &c., which is the proper work of the law; but it does this in general by presupposing what the law affirms, just as an inferior science assumes certain principles which are taken from another that is higher, and superior to it. After the law has convinced us that we are sinners, the gospel takes this principle as established, and concludes that in as much as we are sinners in ourselves, we must, therefore, seek righteousness out of ourselves, in Christ, if we would be saved.

We may, therefore, conclude from these five considerations, that we are all sinners in the sight of God: From the testimony of God himself—from the law of God in particular - from the gospel in general-from the sense of conscience, and from the various punishments which God, being just, would not inflict upon us, if we had not sinned.