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not keep it holy. But against the fruits of the Spirit, "there is no law;" v. 23. As the Apostle more largely declares, in those memorable words of his first epistle to Timothy. "We know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this," (if while he uses the law of God, in order either to convince or direct, he knows and remembers this) ότι δικαιω νομω ου κείται. (Not that the law is not made for a righteous man; but) "That the law does not lie against a righteous man," it has no force against him, no power to condemn him, but against the lawless and disobedient, against the ungodly and sinners, against the unholy and profane; according to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God," 1 Tim. i. 8, 9, 11.
5. They are not condemned, thirdly, for inward sin, even though it does now remain. That the corruption of nature does still remain, even in those who are the children of God by faith; that they have in them the seeds of pride and vanity, of anger, lust, and evil desire; yea, sin of every kind, is too plain to be denied, being matter of daily experience. And, on this account it is, that St. Paul, speaking to those, whom he had just before witnessed to be "in Christ Jesus," 1 Cor. i. 2, 9; to have been " called of God into the fellowship (or participation) of his Son Jesus Christ;" yet declares," Brethren, I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal; even as unto babes in Christ," 1 Cor. iii. 1. "Babes in Christ:" So we see they were "in Christ;" they were believers in a low degree. And yet how much of sin remained in them! Of that "carnal mind, which is not subject to the law of God."
6. And yet, for all this, they are not condemned. Although they feel the flesh, the evil nature in them; although they are more sensible, day by day, that their "heart is deceitful and desperately wicked:" yet, so long as they do not yield thereto; so long as they give no place to the devil; so long as they maintain a continual war with all sin, with pride, anger, desire, so that the flesh hath not do
minion over them, but they still "walk after the Spirit :" there is " no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." God is well-pleased with their sincere, though im perfect obedience: and they "have confidence toward God, knowing they are his, by the Spirit which he hath given them," 1 John iii. 24.
7. Nay, fourthly, although they are continually convinced of sin cleaving to all they do: although they are conscious of not fulfilling the perfect law, either in their thoughts, or words, or works; although they know they do not love the Lord their God with all their heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; although they feel, more or less, of pride or self-will, stealing in and mixing with their best duties; although even in their more immediate intercourse with God, when they assemble themselves with the great congregation; and when they pour out their souls in secret to him, who seeth all the thoughts and intents of the heart, they are continually ashamed of their wandering thoughts, or of the deadness and dulness of their affections: yet there is no condemnation to them still, either from God or from their own heart. The consideration of these manifold defects only gives them a deeper sense, that they have always need of the Blood of Sprinkling, which speaks for them in the ears of God, and that Advocate with the Father, "who ever liveth to make intercession for them." So far are these from driving them away from him, in whom they have believed, that they rather drive them the closer to him, whom they feel the want of every moment. And, at the same time, the deeper sense they have of this want, the more earnest desire do they feel, and the more diligent they are, as they "have received the Lord Jesus, so to walk in him.'
8. They are not condemned, fifthly, for "sins of infirmity," as they are usually called. (Perhaps it were advisable rather to call them infirmities, that we may not seem to give any countenance to sin, or to extenuate it in any degree, by thus coupling it with infirmity. But, if we must retain so ambiguous and dangerous an expression) by “ sins
of infirmity" I would mean, such involuntary failings, as the saying a thing we believe true, though, in fact, it prove to be false; or, the hurting our neighbour, without knowing or designing it, perhaps when we designed to do him good. Though these are deviations from the holy, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, yet they are not properly sins, nor do they bring any guilt on the conscience of "them which are in Christ Jesus." They separate not between God and them, neither intercept the light of his countenance; as being no ways inconsistent with their general character of "walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
9. Lastly, "There is no condemnation" to them for any thing whatever, which is not in their power to help; whether it be of an inward or outward nature, and whether it be doing something, or leaving something undone. For instance: the Lord's-Supper is to be administered. But you do not partake thereof. Why do you not? You are confined by sickness; therefore, you cannot help omitting it; and, for the same reason, you are not condemned. There is no guilt, because there is no choice. As there" is a willing mind, it is accepted, according to that a man hath, not according to that he hath not."
10. A believer indeed may sometimes be grieved, because he cannot do what his soul longs for. He may cry out, when he is detained from worshipping God in the great congregation, "Like as the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panted my soul after thee, O God. My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God: when shall I come to appear in the presence of God?" He may earnestly desire (only still saying in his heart, not as I will, but as thou wilt) to "go again with the multitude, and bring them forth into the house of God." But still if he cannot go, he feels no condemnation, no guilt, no sense of God's displeasure; but can cheerfully yield up those desires with, "Oh, my soul! put thy trust in God. For I will yet give him thanks, who is the help of my countenance and my God."
11. It is more difficult to determine concerning those which are usually stiled, sins of surprise: as when one who commonly in patience possesses his soul, on a sudden and violent temptation, speaks or acts in a manner not consistent with the Royal Law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Perhaps it is not easy to fix a general rule, concerning transgressions of this nature. We cannot say, either that men are, or that they are not condemned, for sins of surprise in general. But it seems, whenever a believer is by surprise overtaken in a fault, there is more or less condemnation, as there is more or less concurrence of his will. In proportion as a sinful desire, or a word or action, is more or less voluntary, so we may conceive, God is more or less displeased, and there is more or less guilt upon the soul.
12. But if so, then there may be some sins of surprise, which bring much guilt and condemnation. For, in some instances, our being surprised is owing to some wilful and culpable neglect; or, to a sleepiness of soul which might have been prevented, or shaken off before the temptation came. A man may be previously warned either of God or man, that trials and danger are at hand: and yet may say in his heart, "A little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to rest." Now, if such a one afterwards fall, though unawares, into the snare which he might have avoided; that he fell unawares is no excuse: he might have foreseen and have shunned the danger. The falling, even by surprise, in such an instance as this, is, in effect, a wilful sin; and, as such, must expose the sinner to condemnation, both from God, and his own conscience.
13. On the other hand, there may be sudden assaults, either from the world, or the god of this world, and frequently from our own evil hearts, which we did not, and hardly could, foresee. And by these even a believer, while weak in faith, may possibly be borne down, suppose degree of anger, or thinking evil of another, with scarcely any concurrence of his will. Now, in such a case, the
jealous God would undoubtedly shew him that he had done foolishly. He would be convinced of having swerved from the perfect law, from the mind which was in Christ, and, consequently, grieved with a godly sorrow, and lovingly ashamed before God. Yet need he not come into condemn. ation. God layeth not folly to his charge, but hath compassion upon him,`, even as a father pitieth his own children." And his heart condemneth him not; in the midst of that sorrow and shame, he can still say, "I will trust and not be afraid. For the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he is also become my salvation."
III. It remains only to draw some practical inferences from the preceding considerations.
what is that to "Who shall lay any It is God that justiAll the sins thou hast
And, first, If there be "no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, and who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," on account of their past sins: then, why art thou fearful, O thou of little faith? Though thy sins were once more in number than the sand, thee, now thou art in Christ Jesus? thing to the charge of God's elect? fieth who is he that condemneth?" committed from thy youth up, until the hour when thou wast"accepted in the Beloved," are driven away as chaff, are gone, are lost, swallowed up, remembered no more. Thou art now "born of the Spirit ;" wilt thou be troubled or afraid of what was done before thou wast born? Away with thy fears! Thou art not called to fear, but to the "Spirit of love and of a sound mind." Know thy calling." Rejoice in God thy Saviour, and give thanks to God thy Father through him.
2. Wilt thou say, But I have again committed sin, since I had redemption through his blood? And, therefore, it is, that "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." " It is meet thou shouldst abhor thyself; and it is God who hath wrought thee to this self-same thing. But, dost thou now believe? Hath he again enabled thee to say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth; and the life which I now live, I