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gating could be admitted, the disproving of the former involves the overthrowing of the latter.
It may be, therefore, considered as asserting two propositions : I. Christ was void of sin, both as to his flesh and as to his Spirit ; and, II. None others are free from sin.
I. Christ was void of sin, both as to his flesh and as to his Spirit.
1. He was void of sin as to his Spirit. (By Spirit, is here meant the rational powers or superior part of man, and is, therefore, opposed to flesh, or those appetites and affections which arise from our bodies, and the union of our souls to them.)a This is frequently asserted in Scripture: “he is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” (Heb. vii. 26.) “ He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.” (1 Pet. ii. 22.) “ He is a Lamb without blemish, and without spot.” (1 Pet. i. 19.)
2. He was void of sin as to his flesh. Thus, Christ felt the appetites of hunger, yet the devil could not tempt him to distrust God, or desire a miraculous supply sooner than was fitling. He also experienced the aversion to pain and suffering which is planted in our natures, so that he wished and prayed that the cup should pass from him; yet he immediately overcame this inclina
See Novel's Cat. p. 61., and Scott's Ch. Life, p. 2. c. 7. sec. 5.
tion, and resigned himself to his Father's will; “not my will, but thine be done.”
II. The Article asserts, that none others are free from sin.
The truth of this assertion is evident from the former Articles, in which it was proved, that some degree of original corruption remains in all men. It may be further established, by considering the destruction which is marked in Scripture, between the characters of Christ and all even his best servants. This distinction may be observed, 1. With respect to our imitation of him. We are desired to follow him, to learn of him, and to imitate him without restriction; whereas, we are required to follow the Apostles, only “ as they are the followers of Christ." (1 Cor. xi. 1.) This distinction evidently infers a degree of holiness in Christ, which is peculiar to him alone. It is, however, objected,a that we are desired to be “ holy, as he was holy in all manner of conver“sation.” (1 Pet. i. 15.) Which implies our ability to equal him in that property. But it may be answered, that we are likewise desired to be
perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect.”
a It is a remarkable circumstance, that these and similar arguments advanced by Roman Catholic writers, in support of man's perfection are precisely the same as were used by the Pelagians of old, and that the answers given by Protestants of the present day, accurately agree with those contained in the writings of the orthodox of former times. See Jewel's Def. of Ap. p. 2. c. 19. div. l.
(Matt. v. 48.) Yet this does not prove that we can attain the same degree of perfection; it merely shows, that we should endeavour to imitate him as far as lies in our power.
2. This distinction may be observed with respect to the failings we find recorded, even of the best characters. Thus, Zacharias and Elizabeth are said to have been blameless, yet we find the former punished with dumbness for misbelieving the Angel's message. (Luke, i. 6, and 20.) Our Saviour's answer to the Virgin Mary, when she came into the temple, (Luke, ii. 49.,) and his reprimand at the marriage in Cana, (Jo. 2. 4.,) evidently imply some degree of error on her part. The Apostles, too, had their controversies about pre-eminence. (Matt. xx. 20.) St. Peter walked not uprightly in the Judaising controversy,
See Field's Book of the Church, p. 293.; and Mason's Vind. of Ch. of Eng. and her lawful Min. 1. 5. c. 5. sec. 8.
b The Council of Trent, at the conclusion of the decree on ori. ginal sin, adds these words : “ This sacred Council declares, that
they do not intend to comprehend in this decree, where it treats “ of original sin, the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary." See Conc. Trid. sess. 5. dec. de orig. pec. The Annotators on the Rhemish Testament go still further, and assert she never committed a venial sin in her life. See Rhem. Test. Annot. Col. i. 24., and Mark, iii. 33.
© The Fathers ascribe Mary's conduct on this occasion, to a feeling of vain glory. See Chrysos. in John, Hom. 21., and August, de Symb. ad Cat. I. 2. c. 5.
(Gal. ii. 14.) And Paul and Barnabas parted in anger about a trifle. These things are mentioned to evince the sinfulness of human nature in all but Christ, and plainly show, that when they are called perfect, it is not meant that they are absolutely free from error, but that their hearts are sincere and faithful, and their sincerity is imputed to them for righteousness.
OF SIN AFTER BAPTISM,
NOT EVERY DEADLY SIN WILLINGLY
BAPTISM, IS THE SIN AGAINST THE HOLY GHOST AND UNPARDONABLE. WHEREFORE, THE GRANT OF RE
PART FROM GRACE GIVEN, AND FALL INTO SIN,
AND BY THE GRACE OF GOD WE MAY ARISE AGAIN
AND AMEND OUR LIVES. AND, THEREFORE, THEY
DENY THE PLACE OF
FORGIVENESS TO SUCH AS
It was held by the Novatians of old, that those who sinned after baptism should be excluded from the Church.a At the time these Articles were compiled, there were some enthusiastsb who adopted this doctrine, and added to it that of the sinless perfection of the regenerate. In opposition to these, perhaps, the
a See Turretin's Inst. Theol. L. 17. Q. 2. sec. 14. * This sect was founded b Novatas, a presbyter of the Church
present Article was framed, and accordingly contains two assertions:
I. The regenerate may depart from grace given, and fall into sin ; and
II. Sins committed after baptism, should be forgiven to such as truly repent.
of Rome, who endeavoured in the year 250 to have himself elected Bishop of Rome, in opposition to Cornelius, and on his failure, separated himself from the communion of the Church. See Mosheim's Hist. cent. 3. p. 2. c. 5., and Lardner's Works, v. 3. p. 206.
This tenet (together with others more impious) was held also by Montanus, a Phrygian, in the year 170. See Moshcim's Hist. cent. 2. p. 2. c. 5., and Lardner's Works, v. ix. p. 481. The same opinion, and that of the sinless perlection of the regenerate, were held by the Brownists, a sect of the Paritans. (See Gifford's Reply to Barrow and Greenwood, p. 96. Ed. Lond. 1591.) And by Melchior Hoffman, one of the principal doctors of the Anabaptists. See Bullinger adv. Anab. 1. 2. c. 13.
Strype mentions some disturbances that took place in the year 1547, in consequence of the propagation of this tenet by the Anabaptists, who came over from Germany to England. To these, perhaps, Bishop Burnet alludes, which is rendered more probable from the fact, that the doctrine on which these sectaries grounded their severity to those who sivned after baptism, was that opposed in the Artis cle, that every such sin was a blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, See Strype's Eccles. Mem. v. 2. p. 1. B. 1.c. 9. p. 110. Ed. Oxford,