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so to represent it, as tho' we hold to a gatory."
As soon as the author of the Letters had exclaimed ; "O sir, is it fair, is it consistent with that charity which hopeth all things, thus to misrepresent a body of people!" and had also introduced a part of my Note already referred to, he adds; " And pray sir, do you be lieve in the power of death to sanctify? It would seem so by this observation of yours, as also from what you say about Paul's desiring to die, because death would put an end to that body of sin under which he groaned.” p. 158. Now, I would ask, whether we need go any farther for proof, that Methodists do hold, that there are saints who in this life are as perfect, as they will be in heaven? Does not Mr. Bangs' objection just brought, evidently imply, that in his opinion death would make no difference in Paul's state, as sin was respected: for if he believed that Paul became more sinless when he left this world, than while he continued in it, what objection could he have to my representation of the cause of his desiring death? I know that the Methodists hold, that the saints are not, in every sense, perfect in this life, as they will be in heaven. They state in their book, that they are not perfect in knowledge. They are not free from ignorance, no, nor from mistake,” &c. Discipl. p. 101. However much of this kind of imperfection belongs to the saints, it did not concern my subject. It was only the sinful imperfection of the saints, of which my text led me to treat.
I know that Mr. Wesley, in the book of Doctrine and Discipline referred to, and as quoted by Mr. B. says: "Therefore sinless perfection is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself." Doct. and Discip. p. 114. If Mr. Wesley did not use the phrase, sinless perfection, it is evident that he held to the doctrine. Among other proofs of this, take these two; the first is, p. 104: "Now it is evident, the apostle, here speaks of a deliverance wrought in this world. For he saith not, 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 all unrighteousness." The other proof is in the 112th page. "What is Christian Perfection? Ans. The loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. This implies, that no wrong temper, none contrary to love remains in the soul," &c.
If Mr. B. does not hold to a sinless perfection in this life, why has he written me a Letter in opposition to my sermon on the sinful imperfection of the saints in this life? Commenting on Isa. vi. 7, he says, "Does not this text undeniably prove the doctrine of a deliverance from sin? Equally in point are the words of the Psalmist, Psal. ciii. 12. As far as the east is from the west, so fur hath he removed our transgressions from us. Observe that this is not spoken in anticipation of what shall be done at death; but it asserts what had already been accomplished." p. 184. Mr. B. knows it is our belief, that the dominion of sin is put down in the hearts of be lievers, and that all their sins are forgiven them for Christ's sake; when therefore he demands, " Does not this text undeniably prove the doctrine of a deliverance from sin?" He must undoubtedly intend a full and complete deliverance from sin. If he did not intend this, it would be nothing more than he knows we also believe. Mr. B. calls our doctrine an "unholy doctrine” and a doctrine" in favor of sin." See pp. 211, 261. But the only reason for calling it so, is because we believe, that while the people of God live on the earth, they are not free from sinful imperfection. If Mr. B. views this an unholy doctrine, then it follows, that he does not himself believe in it, but in the contrary doctrine of a sinless perfection in this life. This is all, which at present, we wish to prove. Viewing this difference of sentiment as actually existing between us, I shall proceed to confirm the doctrine, laid down in the sermon, viz. That good men, while they remain on earth, are never free from sinful imperfection.
Let us first look at the proofs of the doctrine which were exhibited in the sermon, and see whether they ́are fairly taken out of our hands. Mr. B. seeks to get rid of the force of the text which was thought to furnish the above doctrine, by saying, that Solomon either meant, that "there were none but that sinned against
the Adamic law;" or "he meant those involuntary transgressions which, under the ceremonial law, required an atonement." p. 158. I know of no law which requires a less degree of holiness, than was required of Adam This matter we may have cccasion to notice in another place. As to involuntary sin, I believe there is no such thing. There are sins of ignorance; such was Saul's making havoc of the church. He says, "But I did it ignorantly in unbelief;" but sins of ignorance are voluntary. Saul was voluntary in persecuting the church, for he was exceedingly mad against it. Sinning, in the text, is evidently contrasted with doing good. "There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not." If doing good is descriptive of the holiness of this character, then his sinning, must mean something of a directly opposite nature.
We might as well say, that the doing good, was only a ceremonial, or involuntary goodness, as to say this about the sinning. Does not the text most naturally, without any forced construction, convey the idea of a sinful imperfection in every good man on earth?
Mr. B. labors exceedingly to prevent our doctrine from receiving any support by the experiences of St. Paul. Yet all which he has said, does by no means convince us, but that in the 7th chapter of Romans the apostle gives us a christian experience, in giving us his own. I cannot express my views of this experience more concisely, or more to my satisfaction, than they were expressed in the Sermon. "Here the apostle speaks of sin dwelling in him-of his finding a law that when he would do good, evil was present with him— and of a law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin which was in his members. This led him to make that feeling exclamation, with which every christian is acquainted, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death! If this is the experience of Paul after his conversion, then he was a just man who did not live without sin. That this was his experience after his conversion is manifest, 1st. Because he had previously in the 9th verse, spoken of being slain by the law, which is always connected with being made alive unto God and 2dly. Because these descriptions of in
dwelling sin, are mingled with those of indwelling holiness. He declares that he did not allow sin-that he consented unto the law that it was good-nay, that he delighted in the law of God after the inward man. The chapter closes with this declaration, So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. If a man can consent to, delight in, and with his mind serve the law of God, and still not be born again, then we do not see why, without being born again, a man may not see the kingdom of God." Sermons pp. $2, 83. Our opponents get over this difficulty, because they do not believe in the entire sinfulness of every unrenewed heart. But this entire sinfulness, is a doctrine as firmly believed by us, as the inspiration of the sacred volume. We cannot view any unrenewed heart, as any thing better than enmity against God, not being subject to his law-neither can it be. Now with such views of the natural heart, can we believe the apostle to be describing his, or any other man's exercises while unregenerate, when he speaks of not allowing sin, and of hating it, (v. 15.) and of sinning against his will, while he consented to the law? (v. 16.) Can we, who believe in the entire sinfulness of every unregenerate man, think the apostle is describing such a man, when he says, "It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me?" (verses 17, 20.) Such a man never did any thing but sin; and this he has always done with his whole heart. Such a man therefore could never say with any truth, as in the 18th verse," for to will is present with me." The will of the unconverted sinner is totally perverse. Christ says to such; "Ye will not come unto me." Who can believe in any fundamental difference between converted and unconverted men, and yet believe that an unconverted man can say with truth, as in the 22nd verse, "I delight in the law of God;" and as in the 25th verse, "With the mind I myself serve the law of God?”
Let us now inquire, what objection there is against supposing, that Paul is in this chapter describing his own christian experiences. It is objected, that he says, "I am carnal, sold under sin ;" while in another part of his epistle he declares, that to be carnally minded is death; and that the wages of sin is death. It is
also worthy of observation, that in this same epistle it is said, "The carnal (i. e. unrenewed) mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." How, (I would now ask,) can it be made to agree with this character of the carnal mind to say, that it consents to the law, to which it is not, and cannot, be subject-that it even delights in, and serves the law of God? If my antagonist should say, But the difficulty is as great on your side as on mine ;-I answer, it is not, for we believe that the christian has a mixed character, composed of indwelling sin, and indwelling holiness. The carnal man, means the unconverted man; the carnal mind, the unconverted mind; but through the remains of depravity in the heart, it is perfectly consistent and natural, that the christian should confess, "I am a sinful man,' ""I am carnal, sold under sin." The christian is holy, and he is sinful; he is spiritual, and he is carnal; but the unconverted man is not holy, as well as sinful; he is not spiritual, as well as carnal. Therefore while it is agreeable to truth, for the christian to confess, "I am carnal," it is in direct opposition to it, for a graceless sinner, to say, “ I delight in the law of God, after the inward man.
The author of the Letters thinks there could not be a more palpable contradiction, than to suppose the apostle to be describing his christian experiences, because it would make him declare himself spiritual and carnal; free and in captivity at the same time, Let me ask, will it relieve this difficulty, to suppose the apostle is here describing an unconverted sinner? If the other. would be a contradictory character, is not this also? Is there not an entire contrariety between being carnal, and consenting to the law that it is good; between delighting in the law of God after the inward man, and having another law in the members warring against this law of the mind? In fine, is there no contrariety between serving the law of God, and the law of sin? The difference between us is this; he supposes the compounded character exists in the unrenewed man; whereas it is our belief, that it exists only in the renewed man. We suppose that the sinner has but one moral nature, and that this is a sinful nature-the nature of an enemy to God; but that the christian has two