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10. One argument more against this new, unscriptural doctrine may be drawn from the dreadful consequences of it. One says, 'I felt anger to-day.' Must I reply, 4 Then you have no faith?' Another says, ' I know what you advise is good, but my will is quite averse to it.' Must I tell him, 'Then you are an unbeliever, under the wrath and the curse of God?' What will be the natural consequence of this? Why, if he believe what I say, his soul will not only be grieved and wounded, but perhaps utterly destroyed; inasmuch as he will "cast away" that "confidence which hath great recompence of reward :" and having cast away his shield, how shall he "quench the fiery darts of the wicked one?" How shall he overcome the world ?—seeing " this is the victory that overeometh the world, even our faith." He stands disarmed in ibe midst of his enemies, open to all their assaults. What wonder then if he be utterly overthrown; if they take him captive at their will; yea, if he fall from one wickedness to another, and never see good any more? I cannot therefore by any means receive this assertion, that there is no sin in a believer from the moment he is justified; first, Because it is contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture;—secondly, Because it is contrary to the experience of the children of God ;—thirdly, Because it is absolutely new, never heard of in the world till yesterday ;—and, lastly, Because it is naturally attended with the most fatal consequences; not only grieving those whom God hath not grieved, but perhaps dragging them into everlasting perdition.
IV. 1. However let us give a fair hearing to the chief arguments of those who endeavour to support it. And it is, first, from Scripture they attempt to prove, that there is no sin in a believer. They argue thus: "The Scripture says, Every believer is born of God, is clean, is holy, is sanctified, is pure in heart, has a new heart, is a temple of the Holy Ghost. Now, as ' that which is born of the flesh is flesh,' is altogether evil, so 'that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,' is altogether good. Again; a man cannot be clean, sanctified, holy, and at the same time unclean, unsanctified, unholy. He cannot be pure and impure, or have a new and an old heart together. Neither can his soul be unholy, while it is a temple of the Holy Ghost."
I have put this objection as strong as possible, that its full weight may appear. Let us now examine it, part by part. Vol. F. No. 4. L
new, greatly changed from what they were. And yet, though they are new, they are not wholly new. Still he feels, to his sorrow and shame, remains of the old man, too manifest taints of his former tempers and affections, though they cannot gain any advantage over him, as long as he watches unto prayer. •
3. This whole argument, " If he is clean, he is clean ;" "if he is holy, he is holy;" (and twenty more expressions of the same kind may easily be heaped together;) is really no better than playing upon words: U is the fallacy of arguing from a particular to a general; of inferring a general conclusion from particular premises. Propose the sentence entire, and it runs thus: "If he is holy at all, he is holy altogether." That does not follow: every babe in Christ is holy, and yet not altogether so. He is saved from sin; yet not entirely: it remains, though it does not reign. If you think it does not remain, (in babes at least, whatever be the case with young men, or fathers,) you certainly have not considered the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the law of God; (even the law of love, laid down by St. Paul in the thirteenth of Corinthians;) and that every (*vo/*i«) disconformity to, or deviation from this law, is sin. Now, is there no disconformity to this in the heart or life of a believer? What may be in an adult Christian, is another question; but what a stranger must he be to human nature, who can possibly imagine, that this is the case with every babe in Christ!
4. "But believers walk after the Spirit, (# Rom. viii. 1,) and the Spirit of God dwells in them; consequently they are delivered from the guilt, the power, or in one word, the being of sin."
These are coupled together, as if they were the same thing. But they arc not the same thing. The guilt is one thing, the power another, and the being yet another. That believers are delivered from the guilt and power of sin we allow; that they are delivered from the being of it we deny. Nor does it in any wise follow from these texts. A man may have the Spirit of God dwelling in him, and may " walk after the Spirit," though he still feels " the flesh lusting against the Spirit."
5. "But the 'church is the body of Christ;' (Col. i. 24;) this implies, that its members are-washed from all filthincss;
• What follows for some pages is an answer to a paper, published in the Christian Magazine, p. 577—582. I am surprised Mr. Dodd should give such a paper a place in his Magazine, which is directly contrary to our Ninth Article.
otherwise it will follow, that Christ and Belial are incorporate)! with each other."
Nay, it will not follow from hence, "Those who are the mystical body of Christ, still feel the flesh lusting against the Spirit," that Christ has any fellowship with the Devil; or with that sin which he enables them to resist and overcome.
0. "But are not Christians ' come to the heavenly Jerusalem,' where 'nothing defiled can enter?'" (Heb. xii. 22.) Yes; 'and to an innumerable company*of angels, and to the spirits of just men made perfect:' that is,
"Earth and heaven all agree;
And they are likewise holy and undefilcd, while they " walk after the Spirit;" although sensible there is another principle in them, and that "these are contrary to each other."
J. "But Christians are reconciled to God. Now this could not be, if any of the carnal mind remained; for this is enmity against God: consequently, no reconciliation can be effected, but by its total destruction."
We are " reconciled to God through the blood of the cross :" and in that moment the $%mr,ij.x aa^xos, the corruption of nature, which is enmity with God, is put under our feet; the flesh has no more dominion over us. But it still exists: and it is still in its nature enmity with God, lusting against his Spirit.
8. "But ' they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts.'" (Gal. v. 24.) They have so; yet it remains in them still, and often struggles to break from the cross. "Nay, but they have 'put off the old man with his deeds.'" (Col. iii. 9.) They have; and, in the sense above described, " old things are passed away; all things arc become new." A hundred texts may be cited to the same effect; and they will all admit of the same answer.—" But, to say all in one word, 'Christ gave himself for the Church, that it might be holy, and without blemish." (Eph. v. 25, 2/.) And so it will be in the end: but it never was yet, from the beginning to this day.
9. " But let experience speak: All who are justified do at that time find an absolute freedom from all sin." That I doubt: but, if they do, do they find it ever after? Else you gain nothing.—" If they do not, it is their own fault." That remains to be proved.
10. "But in the very nature of things, can a man have pride in him, and not be proud; anger, and yet not be angry?"
A man may have pride in him, may think of himself in some particulars above what he ought to think, (and so be proud ia that particular,) and yet not be a proud man in his general character. He may have anger in him, yea, and a strong propensity to furious anger, without giving way to it.—"But can anger and pride be in that heart, where only meekness and humility are felt?" No: but some pride and anger may be in that heart, where there is much humility and meekness.
"It avails not to say, these tempers are there, but they do not reign: for sin cannot, in any kind or degree, exist where it does not reign; for guilt and power are essential properties of sin. Therefore, where one of them is, all must be."
Strange indeed !" Sin cannot, in any kind or degree, exist where it does not reign." Absolutely contrary this to all experience, all Scripture, all common sense. Resentment of an affront is sin; it is avo^ice, disconformity to the law of love. This has existed in me a thousand times. Yet it did not, and does not reign.—" But guilt and power are essential properties of sin; therefore, where one is, all must be." No: in the instance before us, if the resentment 1 feel is not yielded to, even for a moment, there is no guilt at all, no condemnation from God upon that account. And in this case, it has no poiver: though it 'lusteth against the Spirit,' it cannot prevail. Here, therefore, as in ten thousand instances, there is sin without either guilt or poiver.
11. "But the supposing sin in a believer is pregnant with every thing frightful and discouraging. It implies the contending with a power that has the possession of our strength; maintains his usurpation of our hearts; and there prosecutes the war in defiance of our Redeemer." Not so: The supposing sin is in us, does not imply that it has the possession of our strength; no more than a man crucified has the possession of those that crucify him. As little does it imply, that "sin maintains its usurpation of our hearts." The usurper is dethroned. He remains indeed where he once reigned; but remains in chains. So that he does, in some sense, " prosecute the war," yet he grows weaker and weaker; while the believer goes on from strength to strength, conquering and to conquer.
12. "1 am not satisfied yet: He that has sin in him, is a