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but their best, and most perfect one, is a truth which cannot, one would think, be controverted: for what understanding is there, which is not Jiable to error? What will, that does not feel something of impotence, something of irregularity? What assertions, that are merely human, are ever constant, ever raised? Where is the faith, that has no scruple, no diffidence; the love, that has no deseSl, no remission; the hope, that has no fear in it? What is the state, which is not liable to ignorance, inadvertency, surprise, infirmity? Where is the obedience, that has no reluBancy, no remisnefe, no deviation? This is a truth, which, whether men will or no, they canno^ chuse but feel; the confessions of the holiest of men bear witness to it. And the pretension of the Quakers, to a sinless and perfect state, is abundantly confuted by that answer one of the most eminent of them makes to an objection, which charges them with arrogating and assuming to themselves infallibility and perction, viz. That they were so far infallible and perse c1, as they were led by the Spirit of God. For what is this, but to desert and betray, not defend their cause ? 'Tis plain then, as to matter of fact, that the most perfecl upon earth are not without frailties and infirmities; and such infirmities, as discover themselves in actual slips and

errors.

errors. But the question is, whether these are to be accounted fins? I must confess, if we strictly follow the language of the scripture, we should rather call them by some other name ; for this does so generally understand by fin, a deliberate transgression of the law of God, that it will be very difficult to produce many texts wherein the word fin is used in any other sense. As to legal pollutions, I have not much considered the matter. But as to moral ones, I am in some degree confident, that the word sin does generally signify such a transgression as by the gosple covenant is punishable with death and rarely does it occur in any other sense: I say rarely; for, if I be not much mistaken, the scripture does sometimes call those infirmities, I am now talking of, sins. But what if it did not? 'Tis plain, that every deviation from the law of God, if it has any concurrence of the will in it, is in strict speaking fin: and 'tis as plain that the scripture does frequently give us such descriptions and characters, and such names of these sins of infirmity, as do oblige us both to strive and watch against them, and repent of them. For it calls them spots, errors, defects, slips, and the like. But, what is, lastly, most to my purpose, it is plain, that this distinction ot sins, into mortal and venial, or

sins of infirmity, has its foundation in express texts of icrupture. Numerous are the texts cited to this purpose: but he that will deal fairly must confess, that they are most of them improperly and impertinently urged, as relating either to falls into temporal calamity; or to mortal, not venial fins; or to the sins of an unregenerate state; or to a comparative impurity, I mean the impurity of man with respect to God; a form of expression frequent in Job. I will therefore content myself to cite three or four, which seem not liable to these exceptions, Deut.xxxH.4.: They have corrupted themselves; their spot is not the spot of bis children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Here two things seem to be pointed out to us plainly: First, that the children of God are not without their spots. Secondly, That these are not of the same nature with those of the wicked, in comparison with those wilful and perverse transgressions, the children of God are, elsewhere, pronounced blameless, without offence, without spot, Psalm xix. 12, 13. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults: keep back also thy servant from presumptuous fins, let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgresjion. Here again the Psalmist seems to me to place

upright

uprightness in freedom from deliberate or mortal sin, and to admit of another fort of transgressions, in which even upright men flip sometimes. Nor does the Psalmist here only assert venial sins; but he seems to me to suggest the springs and sources of them, namely, some secret dispositions in .our nature to folly and «rror, which he prays God to cleanse and free him from more and more; Cleanse thou me from secret faults. The word fault is not in the original; but something of that kind must be supplied to render the fense intire in our language. The words of Solomon, Prov. xx. 9. seem to relate to this corruption lurking in us, and never utterly to be extirpated; Who can say I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my fin? For if this should be applied to mortal sin, every one fees, that it will contradict a hundred places in scripture, which attribute to righteous men, purity of heart, and deliverance from sin. Lastly, James iii. 2. we are told plainly, that in many things we of end all, ^\Ao\iAV a.'m.v'ns, not sinners only, but righteous and upright men, have their defects and flips. And accordingly there is not any life which we have the history of in scripture, how] excellent soever the person be, but we meet with some of these recorded; as will appear from those several instances

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ces I shall produce, when I come to dV scribe die nature of these sins. And certainly, when David fays of himself, My Jim are more in number than the hairs of my head: he that shall interpret this place of mortal or presumptuous sins, will both contradict the scriptures, which acquit him, except in the matter of Uriah, and highly wrong the memory of David, making him a prodigy of wickedness, instead of a faint. Nor does that make any thing against me, which he adds in the next words, My heart fails me; or that in the foregoing verse, Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that lam not able to look up. For I do not affirm that the Psalmist here has regard only to sins of infirmity exclusively of others: no; he reckons all together, and so discerns the one aggravated by the other ; and the guilt of all together very far enhanced. Nor do I, secondly, interest myself here in that dispute between protestants and papists, whether sins of Infirmity are not damnable in their own nature, though not imputed under the covenant of grace? Nor do I, lastly, examine what a vast ;heap of sins of Infirmity may amount to, though the guilt of this or that alone were not so fatal. I have then, I think, proved the matter in question ; having shewed, both from the experience of mankind and the

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