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was the condition of the covenant, which God could not have proposed to him, if he had not given him strength sufficient to perform it.
2. The man Christ, who was not a mere man, but Godman, was not only able to keep the law perfectly, but actually did so. He made out what the first Adam failed in, to the salvation of the elect, and in their stead; and this in the whole extent of legal perfection. His obedience was perfect in the principle, Heb. vii. 26. being holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners;' in the parts, Matth. iii. 15.
It becometh us to fulfil all righteousness? in the degrees, John xv. 13. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends;' and in continuance, Phil. ii. 8. He became obedient unto death.'
3. The saints in heaven are able, and do actually perfectly obey whatever God's will to them is: so that though in this life they do not attain it, yet in the life to come all the children of God shall attain perfection, Heb. xii. 23. where mention is made of the spirits of just men made perfect;' and there they shall be fully freed from sin, and all possibility of sinning.
4. But since Adam fell, no mere man is able, while in this life, either of himself, or by virtue of any grace now given, to keep the commands perfectly. Of himself he cannot do it; neither is there any measure of grace given to any in this life, whereby they may be enabled to do it: For in many things we offend all,' Jam. iii. 2. This inability is owing to the remains of corruption that cleaves to every one of them in this mortal state, Rom. vii. 23; and from which they ardently long to be delivered, ver. 24. And there is no promise of grace given in the word, whereby believers may be enabled to keep the commands of God perfectly; nor would it be consistent with the nature of spiritual growth, which is manifestly, like the natural, gradual; and it is certain that the saints do not arrive at their full stature, till they come to the mansions of bliss, 1 Thess. iii. 18.
III. I shall shew how the saints sin daily, and break the commands. And here I shall consider,
1. How many ways the commands may be broken.
3. How these failures of theirs break the commands.
First, I am to shew how many ways the commands may be broken. They may be broken three ways, in deeds, words, and thoughts.
1. In deeds, done contrary to the command of God, or not done, though required. God's commands are the rule of men's outward life and conversation; and whatever we do or commit contrary to the law, is our sin, whether it be public, private, or secret, Psal. xiv. 2, 3.
2. In words, either speaking what we ought not, or not speaking what we ought, or speaking what we ought, but not in the manner commanded. (The same is to be said of actions or deeds.) God's commands are a rule to our tongues, and tell us what to speak, how to speak, and what not to speak; and by regardlessness of the rule, the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity,' Jam. iii. 6.
¿ 3. In thoughts. Here God's laws goes beyond men's laws as to the whole kind; for our thoughts are open to God, who is omniscient, as words or actions are equally open to him, Heb. iv. 13. and liable to his law. For says Christ,
Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart, Matt. v. 28. And so one may sin by thinking what he ought not, by omitting of good thoughts, and by not managing good thoughts, in the manner required by the law.
Secondly, I shall shew in what respect the saints sin daily, in thought, word, and deed.
1. Negatively: not that the saints fall into gross sins daily, against the letter of the law, either in thought, word, or deed. God will disown those for saints who entertain vile thoughts daily, swear daily, lie daily, do unjust things, or neglect his worship daily, Gal. v. 19,-21; Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I also have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.' Such spots are not the spots of God's people. Christ's dwelling by his spirit in them, the breaking of the reign of sin in them by the power of divine grace, and their habitual tenderness and watchfulness, hold them off that way of life. But,
2. Positively. Besides that saints may be surprised into
gross sins in thought, word, and deed, sometimes by inadvertency, weakness, and violence of temptation, which is the burden of their souls, they sin every day in thought, word, and deed, when they keep the strictest watch, and have most of the divine assistance. What day passes, if without vile thoughts, yet without vain ones; without idle words, if with out mischievous words; when there is not something done or undone, which God's law condemns, though perhaps the world cannot quarrel them? Besides, what good thought is thought, good word spoken, or good deed done by them, which the holy law will not spy a flaw in, as to the manner of its performance?
Thirdly, I am to shew how these failures of theirs break thy commands, while they sincerely endeavour to obey them. Why, the moral law is the eternal rule of righteousness, and in whatever state the creature be, he is bound to obey his Creator, whether in a state of nature or grace, glory, or damnation. And though perfection be not attainable in this life, yet it is the saints duty, as well as that of others, Matth. y. ult. Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.' So every coming short of that perfection is their sin, needing to be taken away by Christ's blood.
And thus men daily break the commands of God in thought word and deed; which is the only possible way of transgressing the divine law; and our doing so in these respects shews the equity of that charge which the Lord has against every man, Behold thou hast done evil, as thou couldst,' Jer iii. 5.
IV. I shall now confirm the point, That perfection is not attainable in this life.
1. The scripture attests, that there is no man without sin, 1 Kings viii. 46; For there is no man that sinneth not: and that in many things we offend all,' Jam. iii. 2; If any set up for it in himself, the Spirit of God says he deceives himself, 1 John i. 8; See an unanswerable question, Prov. xx. 9; Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
2. The best have a corrupt as well as a gracious principle, making the spiritual combat, never ending till death give the separating stroke, Gal. v. 17; For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are
contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.'
3. We are taught always to pray for pardon, Forgive us our debts' but sinlesss creatures needs no pardons. This clearly shews, that all sin, and so come short of perfect obedience.
4. Lastly, Consider the spirituality of the law, and its extent, with human weakness, and you will see this clearly. And hence it is that perfectionists are strangers to the spirituality of the law for if they rightly viewed it, they would be far from dreaming of having attained to perfection, which never a mere man did in this life.
Object. Noah was perfect, Gen. vi. 9; * Job perfect, Job
* In order to illustrate the character of Noah as a righteous and perfect man, and to fhew the fignification of thefe epithets, it will not be improper to fubjoin the following note, taken from a manufcript work of the author's, which he left prepared for the prefs, and has been efteemed by proper judges, both at home and abroad, a work of very great learning and merit, but has not yet been printed, entitled "A new tranflation of the first twenty-three chapters of Genefis, with notes explanatory and critical," according to the principles of the Hebrew accentuation as de. livered in his treatife entitled, Tractatus figmologicus Hebreo-Biblicus, printed at Amfterdam in 1738.
Gen. vi. 9. "Noah was a juft man, and perfect in his generations." "As for Noah; [being] a righteous man, he was found in his generations" q. d. found; [lound] in his generations. A found man is a man of integrity and Godly fimplicity, wholly for God, entire in his obedience, keeping himself uncorrupted and unfpotted from the world, in which he lives. Such a man was Noah; and fuch he was, in both the generations wherein he lived, before and after the flood. Thus his character confifts of two parts: he was a found man, and preferved to the end in his foundnefs. And both these are traced to their common fpring-head, namely, his righteous ftate. Being righteous by faith, a juftified man; he was a found man, in true holiness of heart and life; and a preferving man: Agreeable to which is that of the prophet, Hab. ii. 4. The righteous (i. e. by) his faith, fhall live." Tzaddik, an adjective righteous, a fubftantive a righteous one, is derived from the root Tzadak, in the form Pihel (Tziddek), as appears by the Dagefch forte in it. Tzadak (Kal) is not to be reputed righteous; that agrees not to it, chap. xxxviii. 26; nor to do righteously; that agrees not to it, Job ix. 20. Pfal. xix. 10: but to be righteous; which agrees to it every where. Only it is to be obferved, that being righteous is fometimes underflood fimply of exifting righteous, as Gen. xxxviii. 26. Pfal. xix. 10. fometimes of appearing righteous, as Job ix. 20. xiii. 18. & xl. 3. Pfal. li. 6-4th ; and this agreeable to the fcripture-ftyle in other cafes, as Matth. v. 45. "That ye may be (i. e. appear to be) the children of your Father." To ftate the formal notion of righteoufnefs fignified by this root, it is to be
i. 8. Ans. They, and all saints, have a gospel-perfection, which is a perfection of parts. They had a comparative perfection; that is, they were more holy and circumspect than many others. But that they were not legally and absolutely perfect, is clear from Noah's drunkenness and Job's
obferved, that it is ufed of men, as Gen. xxxviii. 26. Job ix. 20. of God himfelf, Pfal. li. 6-4th; of his laws, Pfal. xix. 10; and once it occurs in Niphal, Nitzdak, which, as a neuter verb of being (as Gen. i. 15.) is to become righteous, and is used of God's fanctuary, viz. Dan. viii. 14. "And it fhall become righteous, the fanctuary," i. e. in fuch a ftate or condition as, by God's appointment, it ought to be in. From all which it appears, that the formal notion of righteoufnefs is conformity to the law given concerning the fubject, as concerning men, or the fanctuary or to the eternal idea of righteousness, in the mind of God, as in the cafe of God himself and his laws. Txiddek (Pih.) Hitzdik (Hiph.) are both active, and found to justify or make righteous, the action in Kal being the comple. ment of both, as chap. viii. 14. But the difference lies here. In no form whatsoever doth this verb import a moral or real change: but in Pihel it fignifies manifeftatively, Hiphil, declaratively. In Pihel it occurs five times, and accordingly fignifies to fhew one righteous, or to make appear righteous, Job xxxii. 32. "I have defired to fhew the righteous," viz. as one fhews a thing that is hid, by taking away the cover. Thus Jerufalem fhewed Sodom and Samaria righteous, Ezek. xvi. 51, 52; namely, comparatively righteous, the holiness of Jerufalem being gone, which, while it lafted, quite darkened them. And fo the backfliding Ifrael, Jer. iii. 11. "fhewed her own foul righteous: from the treacherous Judah," namely, as a fervant running away from a master whom he hath served but a fhort while, fhews his deferting of him juft, by an old fervant's running away from the fame mafter at length. Thus understand the ground of Elihu's anger against Job, chap. xxxii. 2. His fhewing his foul righteous; from God, i. e. his juftifying himself in his grievous complaints, from the way and manner of the Lord's dealing with him. Hereto agrees Hitztaddek (Hithp. the relative of Pih.), which is to fhew one's felf-righteous, occurring only, Gen. xlv. 16. What (i. e. how) how fhall we fhew ourselves righteous? Comp. Luke xvi. 15. & xx. 20. Thus expound, Rev. xxii. 11. And the righteous, let him fhew himself righteous ftill, viz. by continuing in the practice of good works. And this is the juftification the apoftle James writes of, to his own countrymen, (Jam. i. 1.) who, knowing the manner of their own language, were in no hazard of miftaking his meaning. Now Tzaddik, being immediately derived from Tziddek, formally denotes one appearing righteous; the holy language hereby teaching, that whether righteousness be imputed or inherent, it must needs fhine forth, not only from the divine appointment, but from the nature of the thing, as a light muft needs give light. And to carry along this notion of the word, I write it righteous. Mean while, fince there is a falfe as well as a true appearance of righteousness, one may fee how Solomon might forbid a man to be righteous much, Eccl. vii. 16. meaning it of the mere appearance or fhew of righteousness, from the notation of the word. Accordingly he adds, ibid. And do not (Tithh-haccam) make thyself wife; for which compare Luke xx.