Puslapio vaizdai

them to turn "to the law and to the testimony." "If I speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in me;" but if I have the Bible on my side, though "traditions" be against me, all the principalities and powers of earth cannot controvert God's truth successfully until they have overturned his throne! To the Bible I appeal, and by the light of this precious book, I desire to be guided in all my inquiries after truth.

I shall probably be accused again, as I have been heretofore, of bearing ill-will to Romanists; and the publication of this work will perhaps be resolved into a malicious disposition to mortify and perplex persons of a different religious creed from myself; but this sin will be laid to my charge most unjustly. I can fearlessly appeal to all who know me; and they will testify that, both in public and in private, I have uniformly treated the private members of the Romish church with kindness and respect; and the Searcher of Hearts knows that I do most heartily desire that even the bitterest enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ may come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved. But this I avow, and his, in the face of heaven, I shall ever be ready to proclaim,-I hate Popery! I do hate it with a perfect hatred! and whilst God gives me life and strength, I shall exert all the power and influence which his providence and grace afford me, to warn and guard my fellow-men against its insidious errors and its strong delusions.

J. F. B.





[No. 153. Vol. I.] Concerning Mortal Sin.

"WHAT is mortal sin?

"I. R. It is that, which of itself entails spiritual death upon the soul. Inasmuch as it necessarily deprives the soul of sanctifying grace, and charity, in which the spiritual life of the soul consists.

"II. The death of the soul, therefore, which mortal sin induces, is not natural death: because in this sense, the soul is immortal: but spiritual, consisting in the privation of sanctifying grace."

[No. 154.] Concerning Venial Sin.

"What is venial sin?

"I. That which does not entail spiritual death upon the soul or that which does not avert from the ultimate end," (i. e. which does not create aversion to God), "or which is only slightly repugnant to the right order of reason.

"Is there any such thing as venial sin?

"II. Calvin taught, that all sins are, from their nature, mortal, and worthy of eternal punishment, but that they are not imputed to believers: so that, according to himself, the sins of believers may be called venial, inasmuch as they are not imputed to them, on account of their condition; but not in the sense, as though of themselves they were not worthy of eternal punishment.

"III. Approximating to this, is the error of Bajus and a few others, who likewise taught that no sin is from its nature venial; and they differed from Calvin only in this, that they said some sins were venial from divine mercy, whilst Calvin sought this from the condition of sinners. The error of Bajus is published in this his 20th proposition. "No sin is from its nature venial, but all sin deserves eternal punishment."

"IV. Hence it is certain that not only from the divine mercy, but from the nature of the case, there are venial sins; or (sins) so trivial that they are consistent in just persons with a state of grace, and the friendship of God.

"This is proved from the Holy Scripture. In Prov. xxiv. 16. it is said, "The just man falleth seven times:" and James iii. 2. “In many things we offend all:" which_passages are understood concerning just men. Besides, Matt. vii. 5. certain sins are compared to a mote (or little splinter); "and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye;" and 1 Cor. iii. 12. to wood, hay, and stubble; "But if any one shall build upon this foundationwood, hay, stubble." Therefore these sins are from their nature light or venial. See other passages from Scripture and the Holy Fathers, in relation to this subject, in Estius, 2 dist. 42. § 4. It is proved also from reason: in all intercourse certain light offences occur, which do not dissolve friendship; therefore, also, there are such in the fellowship and friendship, which man has with God. Farther, every sin does not create aversion to God: therefore every sin is not mortal.



Obj. I. Christ says, Matt. v. 19. Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven;' therefore the transgression of the least command is mortal.

"Ans. We deny the inference: for these commandments are called least only in accordance with the false opinion of the Pharisees; but in themselves they were important, whether with Augustine you refer the words of Christ to the preceding, or with Chrysostom to the subsequent things, such as anger, injury, &c.

"Obj. II. Christ says to Peter, John iii. 8. "If I do not wash thee, thou hast no part with me;" therefore, &c.

"Ans. We deny the inference: because the refusal of Peter, which had preceded, was either no sin, or at least did not exceed a venial offence, but if a refusal had followed the severe reproof of Christ, it would have been a grievous sin of disobedience.

Obj. III. Venial sin is not remitted, except through the mercy of God; therefore, this being set aside, it merits eternal punishment.


"Ans. Although the remission of venial sin be through the mercy of God, yet it is in a measure due to a just man, who seeks it; for venial sin does not destroy the divine friendship, nor does it destroy the principle of recovering from the offence.

“Obj. IV. Venial sin is a greater evil than eternal punishment, according to No. 149; therefore it merits this penalty.

"Ans. We deny the inference. Venial sin is indeed a greater evil in regard to the wrong, as it is an offence against the virtue of God, whereas the punishment would be only against the comfort of nature: but it is not a greater evil in respect of demerit; thus therefore eternal punishment is due to mortal sin alone. See these things more at large in Sylvius & Wiggers."

Our theologian has not been very happy in his selection of proof texts. It is very true "a just man falleth seven times," but Solomon adds what Peter Dens omits, " AND RISETH UP AGAIN." And how does he rise up again? He remembers, whence he is fallen, and repents and does his first works. He looks to the blood of Christ for pardon, and God accepts him. This distinguishes the just man from the hypocrite and the sinner, who fall till seventy times seven, and do not " rise up again," but sink to one depth of degradation after another, until they fall into the perdition of the ungodly. The just man is accepted after falling, not because his dereliction was venial, but because he has risen up and fled to Christ for pardon. But James says, "In many things we offend all.' Yes-truly—and therefore the importance of the Christian's being careful not to pass undue censure


upon others, and to bridle his tongue. The consideration that "in many things we offend all," is stated in this connexion to humble us, not to encourage men in sin. But if we offend in many things" and are still accepted, are not these offences venial? Not more so than any other sins. They must be remitted through the virtue of that blood, which cleanseth from all sin, or we cannot be accepted, but must perish-" The soul that sinneth it shall die."

But some sins are compared to a mote, i. e. when, contrasted with other offences, their guilt appears comparatively small.

Christ in this passage, Matt. vii. 5, is rebuking the hypocrisy of those who, whilst they make great pretensions to sanctity, are themselves guilty in a far greater degree of the very offences which they condemn in others; they officiously proffer their services to extract the splinter from a brother's eye, whilst there is a whole beam in their own eye. This does not prove that some sins are venial, but it shows conclusively that the guilt of some men is greater than that of others. A splinter in the eye will destroy the vision as effectually as a whole beam, and the soul will be as certainly destroyed by the commission of one act of deliberate hostility against God, as by the perpetration of a thousand crimes. A ship will as infallibly sink through the carelessness of the crew in neglecting a single leak, as though its keel were perforated with a thousand holes.

But where is the justice of God, if all sins are to be punished alike, whilst they differ in the degree of their guilt? God will punish with eternal death all sin, all deliberate transgression, which has not been pardoned for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. But some sinners will sink to a lower hell than others, as Christ plainly intimated when he told the Pharisees, "Ye shall receive the greater damnation.” The drunkard, who dies in a fit of mania-à-potu, perishes, for "drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God;" but

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