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but through the blood of the Lamb) reconciled us to himself, we run in the strength which he hath given us, the way
of his commandments. He hath girded us with strength unto the war, and we gladly fight the good fight of faith. We rejoice, through him who liveth in our hearts by faith, to lay hold of eternal life. This is our rejoicing ; that as our Father worketh hitherto, so (not by our own might or wisdom, but through the power of his Spirit, freely given in Christ Jesus) we also work the works of God. And may be work in us whatsoever is well-pleasing in his sight! To whom be the praise for ever and ever!
It may easily be observed, that the preceding discourse describes the experience of those that are strong in faith. But hereby those that are weak in faith may be discouraged : to prevent which the following discourse may be of use.
S E R M ON
On Sin in
2 COR. v. 17.
IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATURE.
S there then sin in him that is in Christ? Does sin remain in one that believes in him? Is there any sin in them that are born of God, or are they wholly delivered from it? Let no one imagine this to be a question of mere curiosity ; or that it is of little importance whether it be determined one way or the other. Rather, it is a point of the utmost moment to every serious Christian : the resolving of which very nearly concerns both his present and eternal happi
2. And vet I do not know, that ever it was controvert. ed in the primitive church. Indeed there was no room for disputing concerning it, as all Christians were agreed. And so far as I have ever observed, the whole body of antient Christians, who have left us any thing in writing, declare with one voice, that even believers in Christ, till they are strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might; have need to wrestle with flesh and blood, with an evil nature, as well as with principalities and powers.
13. And herein our own church, (as indeed in most points) exactly copies after the primitive; declaring (in her ninth article) Original sia is the corruption of the nature of every man, whereby man is in his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth contrary to the Spirit. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in greek og ovnja cagnos, is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe, yet this lust hath of itself the nature of sin."
4. The same testimony is given by all other churches: not only by the Greek and Romish church, but by every reformed church in Europe, of whatever denomination.Indeed some of these seem to carry the thing too far; so describing the corruption of heart in a believer, as scarce to allow that he has dominion over it, but rather is in bondage thereto. And by this means they leave hardly any distinction, between a believer and an unbeliever.
5. To avoid this exreme, many well-meaning men, particularly those under the direction of the late Count Zinzendorf, ran into another; affirrning, that “All true believers are not only saved from the dominion of sin, but from the being of inward as well as outward sin, so that it no longer remains in them.” And from them, about twenty years ago many of our countrymen imbibed the same opinion, that even the corruption of nature is no more, in those who believe in Christ.
6. It is true, that when the Germans were pressed upon this head, they soon allowed, (many of them at least) that " sin did still remain in the flesh, but not in the heart of a believer." And after a time, when the absurdity of this was shewn, they fairly gave up the point: allowing, that sin did still remain, though not reign in him that is born of God.
7. But the English who had received it from thein (some directly, some at second or third hand) were not so easily prevailed upon, to part with a favourite opinion. And even when the generality of them were convinced it was utterly indefensible, a few could not be persuaded to give it up, but maintain it to this day.
II. 1. For the sake of these who really fear God, and desire to know the truth as it is in Jesus, it may not be amiss, to consider the point with calmness and impartiality. In doing this, I use indifferently the words regerierate, justified, or believers; since though they have not precisely the same meaning, (the first implying an inward, aEtual change, the second a relative one, and the third, the means whereby both the one and the other are wrought:) yet they come to one and the same thing : as every one that believes is both justified and born of God.
2. By sin, I here understand inward sin: any sinful temper, passion or affection : such as pride, self-will, love of the world, in any kind or degree: such as lust, anger, peevishness; any disposition, contrary to the mind which was in Christ.
3. The question is not, concerning outward sin : Whether a child of God commits sin or no? We all agree and earnestly maintain, He that committeth 'sin is of the devil. We agree, Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin. Neither do we now enquire, whether inward sin will always remain in the children of God? Whether sin will continue in the soul, as long as it continues in the body? Nor yet do we enquire, whether a justified person, may relapse either into inward or outward sin ? But simply this, Is a justified or regenerate man freed from all sin, as soon as he is justified? Is there then no sin in his heart? Nor ever after, unless he fall from grace ?
4. We allow, that the state of a justified person is inexpressibly great and glorious. He is born again, not of blood, of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
He is a child of God, a member of Christ, an heir of the kingdom of heaven. The peace of God which passeth all understanding, keepeth bis heart and mind in Christ Jesus, His very body is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and an habitation of God through the Spirit. He is created anew in Christ Jesus : He is washed, he is san&tified. His heart is purified by faith; he is cleansed from the corruption that is in the world. The love of God is No III.
shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto him. And so long as he walketh in love (which he may always do) he worships God in spirit and in truth. He keepeth the commandments of God, and doth those things, that are pleasing in his sight : So exercising himself as to have a conscience void of offence, toward God and toward. mana And he has power both over outward and inward sin, even from the moment he is justified.
III. I. But was he not then freed from all sin, so that there is no sin in his heart? I cannot say this : I cannot believe it : because St. Paul says the contrary. He is speaking to believers, and describing the state of believers in general, when he says, The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: these are contrary: the one to the ofker, Gal. v. 170. Nothing can be more express. The apostle here directly affirms, that the flesh, evil nature, opposes the Spirit, even in believers; that even in the regenerate, there are two principles, contrary the one to tbe otber.
2. Again. When he writes to the believers at Corinth, to those who were sanɛt ified in Christ Jesus, i Cor. i. 2. he says, I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual but as unto carnal, as unto baðės in Christ-Ye are yet carnal : for whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal? chap. iii. ver. 1. 3. Now here the apostle speaks unto those who were unquestionably believers, whom in the same breath he stiles his brethren in Christ, as being still in a measure carnal. He aflirms, there was envying (an evil temper) occasioning strife among them, and yet does not give the least intimation, that they had lost their faith. Nay, he manifestly declares, they had not ; for then they would not have been babes in Christ. And (what is most remarkable of all) he speaks of being carnal and babes in Christ, 'as one and the same thing: plainly shewing, that every believer is (in a degree.) carnal, while he is only a babe in Cbrist.
3. Indeed this grand point, That there are two contrary principles in believers, nature and grace, the flesh and the Spirit, runs through all the epistles of St. Paul, yea, through all the holy scriptures : almost all the directions and exhor. tations therein, are founded on this supposition : pointing át wrong tempers or practices in those, who are notwith
standing acknowledged by the inspired writers to be believers, And they are continually exhorted to fight with, and conquer these, by the power of the faith which was in them.
4. And who can doubt, but there was faith in the angel of the church of Ephesus, when our Lord said to him, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, thou hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured and hast not fainted." Rev, ii. 2, 3, 4. there, meantime, no sin in his heart? Yea, or Christ would not have added, nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. This was real sin which God saw in his heart (of which accordingly he is exhorted to repent.) And yet we have no authority to say, that even then he had no faith.
5. Nay, the angel of the church at Pergamos also, is exhorted to repent, which implies sin, though our Lord expressly says, thou hast not denied my faith, ver. 13. 16. And to the angel of the church in Sardis, he says, Strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die. The good which remained was ready to die : but was not actually dead, chap. iii. 2. So there was still a spark of faith even in hin; which he is acccordingly, commanded to hold fast, ver. 3.
6. Once more. When the apostle exhorts believers, to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, (2 Cor. viii. 1.) he plainly teaches, that those believers were not yet cleansed therefrom. Will you answer, “ He that abstains from all appearance of evil, does ipso fa&to cleanse himself from all filthiness.". Not in any wise.
Not in any wise. For instance: A man reviles me. I feel resentment, which is filthiness of spirit. Yet I say not a word. Here I abstain from all appearance of evil. But this does not cleanse me from that filthiness of spirit, as I experience to my
7. And as this position, There is no sin in a believer, no carnal mind, no bent to back-sliding, is thus contrary to the word of God, so it is to the experience of his children. These continually feel an heart bent to backsliding, a natural tendency to evil; a proneness to depart from God, and cleave to the things of earth. They are daily sensible of sin remaining in their heart, pride, self-will, unbelief: and of sin cleaving to all they speak and do, even their best actions, and holiest duties. Yet at