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searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory (the glorious salvation) that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven;" viz. at the day of Pentecost, and so unto all generations, into the hearts of all true believers. On this ground, even the grace which was brought unto them by the revelation of Jesus Christ,” the apostle might well build that strong exhortation, “ Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind,-as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.”

13. Those who have duly considered these things must allow that the privileges of Christians are in nowise to be measured by what the Old Testament records concerning those who were under the Jewish dispensation ; sceing the fulness of time is now come; the Holy Ghost is now given ; the great salvation of God is brought unto men, by the revelation of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of heaven is now set up on earth; concerning which the Spirit of God declared of old, (so far is David from being the pattern or standard of Christian perfection,) “ He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David ; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them,” Zech. xii, 8.

14. If, therefore, you would prove that the apostle's words, “ He that is born of God sinneth not,” are not to be understood according to their plain, natural, obvious meaning, it is from the New Testament you are to bring your proofs ; else you will fight as one that beateth the air. And the first of these which is usually brought, is taken from the examples recorded in the New Testament. “The apostles themselves,"sit is said, “committed sin ; nay, the greatest of theni, Peter and Paul: St. Paul, by his sharp contention with Barnabas ; and St. Peter, by his dissimulation at Antioch.” Well: suppose both Peter and Paul did then commit sin; what is it you would infer froin hence? That all the other apostles committed sin sometimes ? There is no shadow of proof in this. Or would you thence infer, that all the other Christians of the apostolic age committed sin ? Worse and worse: this is such an inference as, one would imagine, a man in his senses could never have thought of. Or will you argue thus: “ If two of the apostles did once commit sin, then all other Christians, in all ages, do and will commit sin as long as they live ?" Alas, my brother! a child of common understanding would be ashamed of such reasoning as this. Least of all can you with

any colour of argument infer, that any man must commit sin at all. Nɔ; God forbid we should thus speak! No necessity of sinning was laid upon them. The grace of God was surely sufficient for them. And it is sufficient for us at this day. With the temptation which fell on them, there was a way to escape; as there is to every soul of man in every temptation. So that whosoever is tempted to any sin, need not yield; for no man is tempted above that he is able to bear.

15. “But St. Paul besought the Lord thrice, and yet he could not escape from his temptation." Let us consider his own words literally translated, “ There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, an angel (or messenger] of Satan to buffet me. Touching this, I besought the Lord thrice, that it (or he] might depart from me.

And he said unto me, my

grace is sufficient for thee. For my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in [these] my weaknesses, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses ;-for when I am weak, then am I strong."

16. As this scripture is one of the strong holds of the patrons of sin, it may be proper to weigh it thoroughly. Let it be observed, then, first, It does by no means appear that this thorn, whatsoever it was, occasioned St. Paul to commit sin; much less, laid him under any necessity of doing so. Therefore, from hence it can never be proved that any Christian must commit sin. Secondly, The ancient fathers inform us, it was bodily pain ;-a violent headach, saith Tertullian; (De Pudic.;) to which both Chrysostom and St. Jerome agree. St. Cyprian* expresses it, a little more generally, in those terms: “ Many and grievous torments of the flesh and of the body.”+ Thirdly, To this exactly agree the apostle's own words: “ A thorn to the flesh, to smite, beat, or buffet me:" " My strength is made perfect in weakness :"which same word occurs no less than four times in these two verses only. But, fourthly, Whatsoever it was, it could not be either inward or outward sin. It could no more be inward stirrings, than outward expressions, of pride, anger, or lust. This is manifest, beyond all possible exception, from the words that immediately follow : “ Most gladly will I glory in [these] my weaknesses, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me.

." What! did he glory in pride, in anger, in lust ? Was it through these weaknesses, that the strength of Christ rested upon him? He goes on : “ Therefore, I take pleasure in weaknesses; for when I am weak, then am I strong ;" i. e. when I am weak in body, then am I strong in spirit. But will any man dare to say, When I am weak by pride or lust, than am I strong in spirit ? I call you all to record this day, who find the strength of Christ resting upon you, Can you glory in anger, or pride, or lust ? Can you take pleasure in these infirmities? Do these weaknesses make you strong ? Would you not leap into hell, were it possible, to escape them ? Even by yourselves, then, judge, whether the apostle could glory, and take pleasure in them? Let it be, lastly, observed, That this thorn was given to St. Paul above fourteen years before he wrote this epistle; which itself was wrote several years before he finished his course. So that he had, after this, a long course to run, many battles to fight, many victories to gain, and great increase to receive in all the gifts of God, and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Therefore, from any spiritual weakness (if such had been) which he at that time felt, we could by no means infer, that he was never made strong; that Paul the aged, the father in Christ, still laboured unde. the same weaknesses; that he was in no higher state till the day of his death. From all which it appears, that this instance of St. Paul is quite foreign to the question, and does in no wise clash with the assertion of St. John, “ He that is born of God sinneth not.”

17. “But does not St. James directly contradict this ? His words are, • In many things we offend all,' chap. iii, 2: and is not offending the same as committing sin ?" In this place, I allow it is : I allow the persons here spoken of did commit sin; yea, that they all committed many sins. But who are the persons here spoken of? Why, those many masters or teachers, whom God had not sent; (probably the same vain

* De Mortalitate. Carnis et Corporis multa ac gravia tormenta.

men who taught that faith without works, which is so sharply reproved in the preceding chapter ;) not the apostle himself, nor any real Christian. That in the word we, (used by a figure of speech common in all other, as well as the inspired writings,) the apostle could not possibly. include himself, or any other true believer, appears evidently, first, From the same word in the ninth verse : Therewith," saith he,“ bless we God, and therewith curse we men. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing.” True; but not out of the mouth of the apostle, nor of any one who is in Christ a new creature. Secondly, From the verse immediately preceding the text, and manifestly connected with it: “My brethren, be not many masters, (or teachers,) knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all.” We! Who ? Not the apostles, nor true believers; but they who know they should receive the greater condemnation, because of those many offences. But this could not be spoke of the apostle himself, or of any who trod in his steps ; seeing “there is no condemnation to them--who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Nay, thirdly, the very verse itself proves, that “we offend all,” cannot be spoken either of all men, or of all Christians: for in it, there immediately follows the mention of a man who offends not, as the we first mentioned did ; from whom, therefore, he is professedly contradistin guished, and pronounced a perfect man.

18. So clearly does St. James explain himself, and fix the meaning of his own words. Yet, lest any one should still remain in doubt, St. John, writing many years after St. James, puts the matter entirely out of dispute, by the express declarations above recited. But here a fresh difficulty may arise : how shall we reconcile St. John with himself? In one place he declares, “ Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;" and again,“ We know that he which is born of God sinneth not;" and yet in another, he saith, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;" and again,—"If we say that we have not sinncd, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

19. As great a difficulty as this may at first appear, it vanishes away, if we observe, first, That the tenth verse fixes the sense of the eighth: “If we say we have no sin," in the former, being explained by," If we say we have not sinned,” in the latter verse. Secondly, That the point under present consideration is not, whether we have or have not sinned heretofore; and neither of these verses asserts, that we do sin, or commit sin nou. Thirdly, That the ninth verse explains both the eighth and tenth : “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness :" as if he had said, “I have before affirmed, 'the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us fiom all sin ;' but let no man say, I need it not; I have no sin to be cleansed from. If we say, that we have no sin, that we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves and make God a liar: but if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just,' not only 'to forgive our sins,' but also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness;' that we may 'go and sin no more.'”

20. St. John, therefore, is well consistent with himself, as well as with the other holy writers; as will yet more evidently appear, if we place all his assertions touching this matter in one view: he declares, first, The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. Secondly, No man can say, I have not sinned, I have no sin to be cleansed from.

Thirdly, But God is ready both to forgive our past sins, and to save us from them for the time to come. Fourthly,“ These things write I unto you,” saith the apostle," that you may not sın. But if any man (should] sin,” or have sinned, (as the word might be rendered,) he need not continue in sin; seeing “ we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' Thus far all is clear. But lest


doubt should remain in a point of so vast importance, the apostle resumes this subject in the third chapter, and largely explains his own meaning : "Little children," saith he, “let no man deceive you :" (as though I had given any encouragement to those that continue in sin:] “ He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil ; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin : for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil,” verse 7–10. Here the point, which till then might possibly have admitted of some doubt in weak minds, is purposely settled by the last of the inspired writers, and decided in the clearest manner. In conformity, therefore, both to the doctrine of St. John, and to the whole tenor of the New Testament, we fix this conclusion, a Christian is so far perfect as not to commit sin.

21. This is the glorious privilege of every Christian; yea, though he be but a babe in Christ. But it is only of those who are strong in the Lord, “and have overcome the wicked one,” or rather of those who “have known him that is from the beginning,” that it can be affirmed they are in such a sense perfect, as, secondly, to be freed from evil thoughts, and evil tempers. First, from evil or sinful thoughts. But here let it be observed, that thoughts concerning evil, are not always evil thoughts; that a thought concerning sin, and a sinful thought, are widely different. A man, for instance, may think of a murder which another has committed, and yet this is no evil or sinful thought. So our blessed Lord himself doubtless thought of, or understood, the thing spoken by the devil, when he said, “ All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Yet had he no evil or sinful thought; nor indeed was capable of having any. And even hence it follows, that neither have real Christians : for **

every one that is

perfect is as his Master,” Luke vi, 40. Therefore, if he was free from evil or sinful thoughts, so are they likewise.

22. And indecd whence should evil thoughts proceed, in the servant who is as his Master ? “Out of the heart of man [if at all] proceed evil thoughts,” Mark vii, 21. If therefore his heart be no longer evil, then evil thoughts can no longer proceed out of it. If the tree were corrupt, so would be the fruit : but the tree is good; the fruit therefore is good also,” Matt. xii, 33; our Lord himself bearing witness, “Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, (as) a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit,” Matt. vii, 17, 18. 23. The same happy privilege of real Christians St. Paul asserts from perience. The

of our warfare,” saith he, not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations,” (or reasonings rather, for so the word hogiouxs signifies; all the reasonings of pride and unbelief against the


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declarations, promises or gifts of God,] “and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor. x, 4, &c.

24. And as Christians indeed are freed from evil thoughts, so are they, secondly, from evil tempers. This is evident from the above mentioned declaration of our Lord himself: "The disciple is not above his Master ; but every one that is perfect shall be as his Master." He had been delivering, just before, some of the sublimest doctrines of Christianity, and some of the most grievous to flesh and blood. .“I say unto you, love your enemies, do good to them which hate you ;-and unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other." Now these he well knew the world would not receive; and therefore immediately adds, “ Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch ?” As if he had said, “Do not confer with flesh and blood, touching these things,—with men void of spiritual discernment, the eyes of whose understanding God hath not opened,-lest they and you perish together.” In the next verse he removes the two grand objections, with which these wise fools meet us at every turn, “ These things are too grievous to be borne;" or, " They are too high to be attained ;'-saying, "The disciple is not above his Master;" therefore, if I have suffered,

be content to tread in my steps. And doubt ye not then, but I will fulfil my word : “For every one that is perfect, shall be as his Master." But his Master was free from all sinful tempers. So, therefore, is his disciple, even every real Christian.

25. Every one of these can say with St. Paul," I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:"-words that manifestly describe a deliverance from inward, as well as from outward sin. This is expressed both negatively, I live not ; (my evil nature, the body of sin, is destroyed;) and positively, Christ liveth in me; and, therefore, all that is holy, and just, and good. Indeed, both these, Christ liveth in me, and I live not, are inseparably connected : For “what communion hath light with darkness, or Christ with Belial ?"

26. He, therefore, who liveth in true believers, hath “purified their hearts by faith;" insomuch that every one that hath Christ in him, the hope of glory, “purifieth himself, even as he is pure," 1 John iii, 3. He is purified from pride ; for Christ was lowly of heart. from self will, or desire ; for Christ desired only to do the will of his Father, and to finish his work. And he is pure from anger, in the common sense of the word; for Christ was meek and gentle, patient and long suffering. I say, in the common sense of the word; for all anger is not evil. We read of our Lord himself, Mark iii, 5, íhat he once “looked round with anger.” But with what kind of anger ? Th: next word shows, oua aurouuevos, being, at the same time, grieved för the hardness of their hearts." So then he was angry at the sin, ard, in the same moment, grieved for the sinners; angry or displeasea at the offence, but sorry for the offenders. With anger, yea, hatred, he looked upon the thing; with grief and love upon the persons. Go; thoa that art perfect, and do likewise. Be thus angry, and thou sinnozi nyi; feeling a displacency at every offence against God, but only love ard tender compassion to the offender.

27. Thus doth Jesus “ save his people from their sins :" Ard rat only from outward sins, but also from the sins of their hearts; frona

He is pure

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