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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 liable to error? What will, that does not feel something of impotence, something of irregularity? What affections, that are merely human, are ever constant, ever raised? Where is the faith, that has no fcruple, no diffidence ; the love, that has no defect, no remiffion; the hope, that has no fear in it? What is the state, which is not liable to ignorance, inadvertency, furprise, infirmity ? Where is the obedience, that has no reluctancy, no remisness, no deviation ? This is a truth, which, whether men will or no, they cannot chuse but feel; the confessions of the holiest of men bear witnefs 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 perfect, as they were led by the Spirit of God. For what is this, but to defert and betray, not defend their cause ? 'Tis plain then, as to matter of fact, that the most perfect upon earth are not without frailties and infirmities; and such infirmities, as discover themselves in actual slips and

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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 fo generally understand by sin, 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 fenfe. 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 lignify fuch a transgression as by the gofple covenant is punishable with death and rarely does it occur in any other sense; I say rarely ; for, if I be nat' much mistaken, the scripture does fometimes call those infirmities, I am now talking of, fins. 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 fuch defcriptions and characters, and such names of these fins of infirmity, as do oblige us both to strive and watch against them, and repent of them. For it calls them fpots, errors, defects, flips, and the like. But, what is, lastly, most to my purpofe, it is plain, that this distinction of fins, into iortal and venial, or

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sins of infirmity, has its foundation in express texts of scrupture. 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 sins; 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.xxxii.4: They have corrupted themselves ; their spot is not the spot of his 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 chil. dren of God are, elsewhere, pronounced blameless, without offence, without spot, Psalm xix. 12, 13. Who can understand bis 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 transgreson. Here again the Psalmist seems to me to placę



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uprightness in freedom from deliberate
or mortal fin, and to admit of another
sort of transgressions, in which
upright men lip 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 fecret
dispositions in our nature to folly and

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 sense 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 bave made my heart clean, I am pure from my fin? For if this should be applied to mortal fin, every one sees, that it will contradict' a hundred places in scripture, which attribute to righteous men, purity of heart, and deliverance from fin. Lastly, James iii. 2. we are told plainly, that in many things we offend all, w Tuchopisy ärarnas, not finners only, but righteous and upright men, have their defects and Nips. And accordingly, there is not any life which we have the history of in scripture, how excellent foever the person be, but we meet with some of these recorded; as will appear from those several instan

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ces I shall produce, when I come to des scribe the nature of these fins. And certainly, when David says of himself, My fins 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 Uriab, and highly wrong the memory of David, making him a prodigy of wickedness, inftead of a saint. Nor does that make any thing against me, which he adds in the next words, My beart fails me ; or that in the foregoing verse, Mine iniquitie's have taken hold upon mes so that I am not able to look up. For I do not affirm that the Pfalmift liere has regard only to fins 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 difpute between protestants and papists, whethier fm 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 fins of Infirmity may amount to, though the guilt of this or that alone were not fo fatal. I have then, I think,

think, proved the matter in question ; having sewed, both from the experience of mankind and the

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