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i. 7. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin? Does not the apostle Paul ask, Heb.. ix. 14. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? In this passage they are said to be purged from dead works, by the blood of Christ, that they might serve the living God. But if they do not serve the living God until purified, and if death acts as a purifier, then we do not serve the living God until after death. It is seriously doubted whether a solitary passage of scripture can be found in all the Bible to support the idea, that death is the destroyer of sin. On the contrary, death is all along represented as a consequence of sin, and the last enemy. Shall the effect destroy its cause? And shall the enemy of mankind do the most friendly and beneficial act towards them? The
arguments," therefore 6 which we against the power of death to sanctify," do not necessarily suppose, that we are as sinless in this life, as are the spirits of just men made perfect. It is true, we wish to ascribe the glory of our salvation, from the foundation to the top-stone, to Jesus Christ, and not to death; and in this respect we accord with the holy scriptures, which teach us to ascribe honour and glory unto him that loved us, and washed us in his own blood.
As the consequence which you endeavour to infer from our doctrine, has no connexion with it, so neither do we hold it in principle. And you might
have convinced yourself of this, if you had taken the trouble of looking in our discipline, instead of quoting merely from recollection, and perhaps from hearsay.* To convince you of your mistake, I will transcribe some passages from the discipline, published in 1808. P. 120, After having shewn the difference between the Mosaic economy, comprehending the political, moral, and ceremonial laws, and the Adamic law of innocence; and also shewing the reason why men cannot fulfil the requirements of the latter, the author concludes thus,
Consequently, no man is able to perform the ser
• As a proof that your memory is very treacherous, or that you never read our discipline, it is proper to observe, that in the discipline there is not one argument used against the power of death to cleanse from sin. It is simply asserted that a christian may be cleansed from sin "before death,” p. 58. This is the only place in the discipline which speaks on the doctrine of perfection, besides Mr. Wesley's "plain account," from which I have made the above extracts; and in neither of which is the argument to which you have alluded, used. Mr. Fletcher, in his 6th volume of “Checks to Antinomianism,” uses many unanswerable arguments against a “ death purgatory.” And lest you should attempt” to de. fend the error there exposed, or the no less fatal one of the Roman Catholics, I would take the liberty to recommend the volume just mentioned to your serious perusal. If you give it an impartial reading, I think you will no longer oppose the scriptural doctrine of christian perfection, and defend “sin. ful imperfection.” I would also recommend our discipline to your consideration, that you may not again expose your want of information respecting our doctrines; for I prefer imputing your erroneous statements to inattention, than to wilful mis. representation.
vice, which the Adamic law requires." Compare this with p. 106. “To explain myself a little farther on this head; 1. Not only sin, properly so called, that is, a voluntary transgression of a known law, but sin, improperly so called, that is, an involuntary transgression of a divine law, known or unknown, needs the atoning blood. 2. I believe there is no such perfection in this life, as excludes these involuntary transgressions, which I apprehend to be naturally consequent on the ignorance and mistakes inseparable from mortality. 3. Therefore sinless perfection is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself. 4. I believe a person filled with the love of God, is still liable to these in
It is true that in several places in Mr. Wesley's Plain Account of Christian Perfection, it is affirmed, That christians may be cleansed from sin before death; which affirmation is supported by a number of texts-among which are the following,—" He hath raised up an horn of salvation for us to perform the mercy promised to our fathers; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, should serve him without fear, in holiness, and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” Luke i: ver. 69, &c. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, 80. are we in this world.” 1 John iv. 17. Could such unequivocal testimony be brought to establish your doctrine of predestination, you would have no cause to fear for its safety, because all believers in the authenticity of scripture must yield their assent to its evidence. I meant, however, to observe that there is a material differe ence between saying and proving that a christian may be saved from sin before death, and reasoning against the power of death to sanctify."
voluntary transgressions. 5. Such transgressions you may call sins, if you please; I do not for the reasons above mentioned." Take another instance from page 123, “But the best of men may say, Thou art my light, my holiness, my heaven. Through my union with thee, I am full of light, of holiness, and happiness. And if I were left to myself, I should be nothing but sin, darkness, and hell."
66 The best of men need Christ as their priest, their atonement, their advocate with the Father; not only, as the continuance of their every blessing depends on his death and intercession, but on account of their coming short of the law of love."
From these quotations, all of which are taken from our discipline, it is undeniably plain, 1. That we believe that a perfect christian, when considered in relation to the Adamic law, falls far short of its requirements; and therefore, on this account, may be denominated a transgressor. 2. But that no man since the fall is under that law, because it is, properly speaking, a law of works; whereas we are under the dispensation of grace. And will you undertake to prove, that the glorified saints in heaven do not perfectly fulfil this law. Are they not perfectly freed not only from sin, but also from all its consequences ? At least at the resurrection, when their glorified bodies shall become like unto Christ's most glorious body. If you cannot prove this, neither can you prove that we hold to as great perfection in this life, as the saints in heaven posa
3. That such is our situation, surrounded with temptations, the spirit shrouded in a corruptiible body, our reasoning powers impaired, that we frequently involuntarily transgress the law of love, under which we are ; but that these are not sins, “properly so called.” 4. That therefore we continually need the atoning merits of Christ to wash us, and the Holy Spirit to help our infirmities.After reading these remarks, it is possible you may think, that, among other sins, which you suppose you momentarily commit, you have been guilty, I hope unintentionally, of the sin of misrepresentation. Having made these observations to remove the misapprehension which may have arisen in the minds of your readers, respecting our ideas of christian perfection, I proceed to examine, in the first place, those texts of scripture with which you attempt to support your doctrine of “sinful imperfection.
1. 1. If, when Solomon said, There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not, he meant there were none but that sinned against the Adamic law, that text cannot be considered as contradicting the doctrine of evangelical perfection, so often alluded to in the New Testament. It is probable he meant those involuntary transgressions, which, under the ceremonial law, required an atonement. Lev. iv. 13, 14, 15. And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, &c.When the sin which they have sinned against it shall de known, then the congregation shall offer a young