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guilt upon himself, if he fall into any enorXII.
mous crime. They affirm it as to faft, so that he is convinced in his conscience, and bound to confess before God, that he has committed such a crime, to the denial, or in excuse of which he can adduce nothing; and that according to the threatening of the law, he deserves eternal destruction. They deny it as to the sentence of a justifying God, whereby the man being absolved from all his sins, it is impossible that a condemnatory sentence should be pronounced for this new sin. Therefore, to use the scholastic gloss, they affirm it concerning potential guilt, and deny it as to actual. And their opinion they illustrate, by the example of a man who being guilty of sedition, or of treason, confesses before the tribunal his fault, and that he is worthy of punishment, but in the mean time, has in his possession a writ of pardon, granted him
by the clemency of the prince. V. That V. That seems a strange assertion which they have they have expressed in these words, that it is which the voice of a lying spirit who tells believers, that waste the they have sins which waste the conscience, and conscience; that David which lie upon them as a burden heavier than to
be borne; and that David, while he complained truly complain of the of that, did not speak truly. They explain their burden of sin lying meaning, however, in the following manner: upon him. that Christ took the burden of our sins upon
himself, bore them, and in bearing, carried them away; so that no believer can be burdened with it to destruction, or to despair,
and his conscience so wasted, that it should CHAP. truly testify, God is not pacified towards him.
XII. That in David, Asaph, Heman, Job, and other saints, those things which in the height of temptation, and from a failure of faith, they speak incautiously concerning the goodness of God, must be distinguished from those which they declare from a principle of lively faith, after they have recovered. Examples of which are so obvious, to such as are skilful in the scriptures, that they need no further enlargement.
VI. Concerning the injury and the hurt done VI. That by sin, they speak in the following manner: them no Sin, if considered in its own nature, is the root from whence the most destructive fruits arise, and its wages is death; and none should be reckoned so small, that it does not deserve the eternal torments of the spirits in prison. And it is proper that these things be under the view of believers, as often as with its feigned and deceitful fawning, it allures them to commit it: for then it is the most dreadful of all things: inasmuch as it crucified our dearest Lord Jesus. But the sins of believers, who have God for their merciful Father, do them no real injury, neither is there any reason why they should be afraid of it. For real injury is punishment properly so called, and some part of condemnation, which Christ has entirely taken away from his people. By bearing all that is terrible in sin he hath destroyed sin, and made it that believers have no
sin of theirs.
CHAP. more to fear from it, than from a dead lion.
Which they protest they by 'no means affirm, concerning sin when it fawns, and allures; but concerning sin committed, which lies on the conscience of believers, and tempts them to deny both the free grace and love of God,
and the all-sufficiency of Christ's merits. VII. VII. When they deny, that God is offended That nei. ther is God by any sin of a justified person, however great, offended they again desire that to be understood in res
pect of the most plenary reconciliation which Christ has obtained, and which in justification, is adjudged to believers. For thus they teach: God is not offended without cause. There is no cause of offence, except sin. Christ bore and carried away all the sins of believers, and the most just offence given to God on their account: and not some part of the offence only, but the whole of the offence altogether. Therefore no part remains which can lie upon believers. Unto them God says, “ sury is not in me.” Isa. xxvii. 4.
VIII. With respect to the confession of sins, fession is
their opinion is this: That it is just, comely, not necessa- and necessary, to the end that God may be ry to obtain pardon. glorified, Jos. vii. 19. as the only Saviour of
miserable men; and that the necessity, dignity, and efficacy of Christ's merits may be acknowledged. Yet they deny that confession of sins is the cause whereby remission is procured, or even the assurance of it. He who is truly a believer, has as much foundation for quietness of mind, concerning the remis
sion of his sin before confession, [22.] as CHAP. after it. The only ground of assurance is the word of grace: “I even I am he who blotteth out thy transgression for mine own sake.” The verity and the value of that word, once pronounced in justification, abideth for ever. It belongs to faith to apprehend that word, and to apply it to itself for assurance; not to expect it by solemn confession, as a certain prerequisite. For confession itself, unless it proceed from the faith of this word, cannot be acceptable to God.
IX. They acknowledge a sense of sin in order to holy humiliation of mind, and sincere neither a
Eense of sin, penitence, to be a duty of very imperfect piety: nor hunulis but they contend that it arises much more easily, and to better purpose, from the faith of pardon already obtained, than from any other
For when Christ shews himself in all the benignity of his most precious grace to the sinful soul, and of his own accord, pardons so many and so grievous sins, it melts much more easily and more purely into the most copious tears of sincere penitence, than when it has to struggle with unbelief and despondency. X. With respect to daily prapers for the re
X. Nor mission of sins, they have taught as follows: daily prayAn upiversal remission of sins is given in justification; for which, as already given, thanks should be returned to God. But re
ation of mind.
CHAP, mission of sins sometimes signifies its manis
festation to the conscience, in the continual communication of new favours, in the pleasures of God's love, in beholding the light of his countenance, and in the shining of the soul which arises from the rays of the Sun of Righteousness, beaming forth, and bringing Healing. These are things which deserve all the ardour of daily prayers. Yet so, that we believe we have them in Christ, together with all spiritual benefits; and that out of his fulness, and not for the sake of our prayers, we shall receive them from God. Thus far I have given an account of the brethren's judgment, with as much fidelity, accuracy and perspicuity as I could.