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of sinful imperfection, its happy tendency to promote humility, penitence, &c. See p. 88–93. TO proceed— The Apostle calls them foolish. O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, iii. 1. Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? ver. 3. Have ye suffered so many things in vain, if it be yet in vain, ver. 4. Are such cutting reproofs common to all christians of every grade, who bring forth thirty, sixty, and an hundred fold? Do you suppose our Lord meant that those who received the good word of God, should bring forth, some thirty fold of foolishness, some sixty fold of witchcraft, and others an hundred fold of the works of the flesh! Such was the shameful apostacy of those people, that the apostle told them, chap. v. 4, Ye are fallen from grace. We see therefore, the reason of their present inability to do the things they would. They had departed from their first faith and love; and having cast away their spiritual armour, and being shorn of their spiritual strength, they were no longer able to withstand their enemies. They had in fact gone back to the law, and were again under its curse. It would seem, therefore, that the passage, These are contrary one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things ye would, expresses a similar sentiment to the one in Rom. vii. 18. To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not.
And as the latter is not descriptive of an experienced father in Christ,
so neither is the former a just criterion, by which to judge of the doctrine of christian perfection.
7. Your next quotation is from 1 Kings viii. 46. If they, sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not.)
“ If there be any man who has arrived to a state of sinless perfection, then what is contained in this parenthesis would not be true.” p. 86. Here again you beat the air, by the phrase “sinless perfection,” which, from your account, your readers must suppose, that we believe means the same as the perfection of heaven. I would request the candid, christian reader to consult this text, with its connexion, for himself; and then say, if he can make any sense or meaning to Solomon's prayer for the Lord to forgive his people when they returned and made supplication to him, on the supposition that they unavoidably must continue in that very sin all the days of their lives. The plain and obvious meaning of the wise man is, There are none but are liable to sin; and therefore, if thy people, who, with all others are thus liable to sin, should so far forget the dignity of their character as thine elect people, as to sin against thee; and in consequence of their sin, they should be carried into captivity, and in their distress should they repent of their sin, making supplication unto thee—then hear thou in heaven, and forgive their rebellion.* See 1 Kings viii. 46-50.
* " If you will consult the original, you will find that the word translated SINNETH, is in the future tense, which is often used for an indefinite tense in the potential mood, because
8. Prov. ix. 20. Who can say, I have made my heart clean. I am pure from my sin? “ No one can say,
I am the man, if the doctrine drawn from our text is true." Granted-but the “ doctrine drawn from” your text is not true ; and therefore the Apostle Peter could say, “Seeing ye have purified your souls (ye who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, ver. 18.) in obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart, (not an impure heart, full of pride, &c.) fervently, 1 Pet. i. 22. St. John also could say, “ And every man that hath this hope in him (the hope of being like Christ, ver. 2.) purificth himself, even as he is pure," 1 John iii. 3. Now, sir, will you call Peter and John pharisees, hypocrites, blind, and “minis: ters of satan;" and say that you have not the “least mite of charity” for them, because they congratulated their brethren on their having attained to purity of heart? And is there no difference between being pure in heart, and being full of “ indwelling sin?' When did our Lord say, Blessed are they whose hearts are full of unbelief, pride, and impenitence, and whose lives are full of " sinful imperfection ?" On the contrary, did he not say, Blessed are the PURE in HEART, for they shall see God? And among all the beatitudes mentioned Matt. v. 1--13. none are pronounced blessed on account of “indwelling sin.” When, therefore, you enumerate the great utility of “heart sin," do you not bless that which the Lord abhors,-Do not this abominable thing which my soul hateth. If Solomon, in the above passage, meant, that none had made themselves pure, abstract from the Spirit of grace, and independent of the merits of Jesus Christ, as he unquestionably did, he spoke perfectly according to the evangelical purity for which the scriptures continually plead. To understand him otherwise, is to make him contradict the Psalmist David, his royal father, who said, I am holy, Jesus Christ, in his sermon on the mount, and Peter and John, in the passages already cited from their epistles.
the Hebrews have no such mood or tense. Therefore our translators would only have done justice to the original, as well as to the context, if they had rendered the whole clause, There is no man that MIGHT NOT SIN. instead of there is no man that SINNETH NOT.” Fletcher's Checks, vol. 6. p. 123, note. That a christian has power to sin, and therefore may sin is not disputed ; and that they have pomer not to sin, and therefore may not sin, is equally evident. And that Solomon meant to be understood in this sense, is manifest from his saying, If thy people sin, &c.
9. As to Job, I would sooner believe him mistaken respecting himself, while groaning under a flood of afflictions, threatening to drown him in despair ; and also while refuting the inconclusive arguments of his mistaken friends, who strove in vain to convict him of either “indwelling," or out-breaking sin—I say, while in this afflictive situation, I should sooner believe he undervalued himself for once, when he said, If I should say, I am perfect, it would prove me perverse, than to disbelieve the testimony which the Almighty himself gives of Job's character, when he calls him, A perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil, ch. i. 8. Not one that harboureth sin in his heart, where you suppose the sin of the believer principally dwells. But there is no necessity of supposing either of them mistaken. Job, no doubt, meant that he was not so perfect as to be free from afflictions, which he so sensibly felt. His mistaken friends endeavoured to convince him that his afflictions were a mark of God's displeasure, as he would not so chastise an innocent man. From these unjust accusations, Job vindicated himself in the most masterly manner, declaring until I die, I will not let go mine integrity. From the whole of his arguments in justification of himself, it is undeniably certain that he never meant to confess himself “sinfully imperfect,” in your sense of the word. Moreover, it is expressly said at the conclusion of the account of his losses, In all this did not Job sin with his lips, chap. ii. 10. It appears therefore, that Job affords no proof of your doctrine for " sinful imperfection."
10. P. 87. 1 John i. 8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 66 In view of these two last passages, it seems strange that any should dare to say, that they are perfect in such a sense as to be sinless." And a little below you say, “ The 4th question in the debate was to this amount, Do any in this life arrive to such a state of perfection as to live without sin ? This is not quite correct.