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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 iruth is not in us.” And again, “ If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not 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 rrot sinned, inthe latter verse. Secondly, That the point under present consideration is not, whether we have or have not sinned heretofure : and neither of these verses assert, that we do sin, or coinmit sin now. Thirdly, That the ninth verse explains both the eighth and tenth ; " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to 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 from 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 for. give our past sins, and to save us from thein for the time to come. Fourthly, These things I write unto you, saith the a postle, that you may not sin ; 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 any 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 tho' I had given any encou
544 ragement to those that continue in sin.) He that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that com
. mitteth sin is of the devil : for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God reas 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. (verses 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 thật 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 yer this is no evil or sinful thought. So our blessed Lord himself, doubtless thought of, or understood the things spoken by the devil, when he said, “ All this 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, $0 are they likewise:
22. And indeed, whence should evil thoughts proceed, in the servant who is as his Master ? out of the heart of man (it 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. (Matth. xii, 33.). Qur Lord himself hearing 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 his own experience.
" The weapons of our warfare,” saith he, " are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong-holds : casting down imaginations” (or reasonings rather,for so the word hoyloues signifies : all the reasonings of pride and unbelief against the declarations, promises or gifts of God) “ and every high thing that exalteth itsfelf against the knowledge of God; and bringing into captivity” every thought " to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor.
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 you 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 No. X.
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 “whatcommunion 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; or Christ was lowly of heart. He is pure 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.) that he once looked round with anger. But with what kind of anger ? The next word shews ; OURRUTXUEVOS being at the same time grieved for the hardness of their hearts. So then he was angry at the sin, and in the same moment grieved for the sinners. Angry or displeased 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 thou that art perfect, and do likewise. Be thus angry, and thou sinnest not : feeling a displacency at every offence against God'; but only love and tender compassion to the offender.
27. Thus doth Jesus save his people from their sins : and not only from outward sińs, but also from the sins of their hearts; from evil thoughts and from evil tempers. " True," say some; ". we shall thus be saved from our sins : but 110t till death, not in this world." But how are we to reconcile this with the express words of St. John, ? Herein is our love made perfekt, lhat we may have bold
ness in the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world. The apostle here beyond all contradiction speaks of himself and other living Christians, of whom (as though he had foreseen this very evasion, and set himseif to overturn it from the foundation) he flatly affirms, that not only at, or after death, but in this world they are as their Master, i John iv. 17.
28. Exactly agreeable to this are his words in the first chapter of this epistle, (verse 6, &c.) "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we walk in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us fro:n ali sin.” And again, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Now it is evident, the apostle here also speaks of a deliverance wrought in this world. For he saith nor, the blood of Christ will cleanse (at the hour of death, or in the day of judgment) but it cleanseth at the time present) us (living Christians) from all sin. And it is equally evident, that if any sin remain, we are not cleansed from all sin: if
any unrighteousness remain in the soul, it is not cleansed from allunrighteousness. Neither let any sinner against his soul say, that this relates to justification only, or the cleansing us from the guilt of sin ; first, Because this is confounding together what the apostle clearly distinguishes; who mentions first, to forgive us our sins, and then, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Secondly, Because this is asserting justification by works in the strongest sense possible, it is making all inward, as well as outward holiness, necessarily previous to justification. For if the cleansing here spoken of is no other than the cleansing us from the guilt of sin, then we are not cleansed from guilt ; 1. e. are not justified, unless on condition of walking in the light, as he is in the light.
Jt remains then, that Christians are saved in this world from all sin, from all unrighteousness : that they are now in such a sense perfeet, as not to commit sin, and to be freed from evil thoughts and evil tempers,
29. Thus hath the Lord fulfilled the things he spake by his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: by Moses in particular, saying (Deut. xxx. 6.) " I will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy
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