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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 under 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 mot.”
17. “But does not St. James directly contradict this ? His words are, “ In many things we offend all :” (Ch. iii. rer. 2:) And is not offending the same as committing sin?' In this place, I allow it is: 1 allow the persons here spoken of did commit sin; yca, 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 men who tauglit 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 crcaturc. 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 knew 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 ; sceing “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, , cither 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 contradistinguished, and pronounced a perfect man.
18. So clearly does St. James explain himnsell, 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 ns;" and again," If we say that we have not sinued, 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
se of the eighth : “ If we say we have no sin," in the former, being explained by, “If we say we have not sioned," in the latter verse. Secondly, Tbat 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 now. 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 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 lir: 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 sin. But if any mari (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 inan deceive you :” (as though I had given any encouragement to those that continue in sin :) “He that doeth rightcousness 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 sced 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. formity, 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 ; 'hat a thought concerning sin, and a sinful thought, are widely different. A man, for instance, may think of a murder which another bas 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 cven 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 indeed whence should cvil thoughts proceed, in the servaut who is as his Naster? “ 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 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 oyoques signifies; all the reasonings of pride and unbelief against the declarations, promises, or gifts of God,] “and every bigh 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 bad 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 e;es 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 mcet us at every turi, “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 bis 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 truc believers, hath “purified their hearts by faith ; " insomuch that cvery 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. 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 lie is pure from anger, in the common sense of the word; for Christ was neck and gentle, patient and longsuffering. 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 shows, ou AUTOULLEROS, being, at the same time, “grieved for the bardness 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 sins, 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 not 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 perfect, that we may have bolduess 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 crasion, and set himself to overturn it from the foundation) he flatly aflirmis, that not only at or after death, but in this world, they are as their Master. (1 John iv. 17.)
28. Esactly agrecable to this are his words in the first chapter of this Epistle, (ver. 5, &c.,) “God is light, and in lius is !0 darkness at all. If we walk in the light,- 110