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"The perseverance of believers is consistent with their being sanctified but in part; and guilty of much sin; and even by surprise and great temptation, of particular gross outward acts of sin. But they never become totally corrupt and sinful, as they were before, and as all the unregenerate are; and they do not sin with their whole heart: they being born of God do not commit sin in this sense, and as others do; for his seed remaineth in them: and they cannot thus sin because they are born of God."
Vol. 2. p. 131, 132. There are different degrees of holiness in believers; and some of their holy exercises may be stronger while others are weaker.
Vol. 2. p. 150-156.*
The utterly unsanctified are constantly sinful; while the partially sanctified are but inconstantly good. The alternation of holy and unholy feelings constitutes that warfare of which Paul speaks, when he says, "what I would, that do I not." "Saints do have some perfectly good affections ;" and "it is no less evident, that they have some affections altogether unholy and sinful." "There is nothing else which prevents their being as perfectly holy and free from sin, as the saints and angels in heaven." When God shall cease from the production of sinful exercises, and shall produce constantly holy ones, their sanctification will be completed.
Emmons, p. 431-483.
* In this part of the System, Dr. Hopkins is not so consistent with himself as the ingenious Dr. Emmons. This latter divine does not hesitate to say, that no part of a believer's imperfection consists in the weakness of his exercises, for he either loves God with his whole heart, or with his whole heart, as the impenitent do, hates God. After what Dr. Hopkins had before said of holy and sinful volitions, he should have gone, to have been thorough, the full length of his own system. But the good man was probably startled, by a glimpse at the consequences of his own theory; and therefore attempted to compound two opposite doctrines. Consequently, upon the subject of sanctification he is sometimes with Calvin and sometimes with Emmons.
"This same apostle represents all christians, as in a state of warfare, by reason of evil inclinations and lust in their hearts, which oppose that which is the fruit of the Spirit, in them, and prevents their doing what they would.
ON THE IMPERFECTION OF GOOD MEN.
The three divines whose discussion was lately reported, were again convened, by the concerns of the church, in one of the monthly clerical associations.
During the transaction of business, when any dispute was agitated, they could not avoid the discovery, by a few friendly allusions, that they were rival metaphysicians, and that one was a Calvinist, another a Hopkinsian, and a third an Arminian.
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." Here, he speaks like a Calvinist, of two opposite principles, existing and opposing each other, in the renewed sinner at the same time. But he adds, "To will was present. When they looked forward, they wished actually to do, and be all that christianity dictates, and of which they could have any idea; but when they came to act, they always fell short, and sinful inclinations prevented their doing as they desired." This is the modern Hopkinsian doctrine; that at one time the believer wills that which is good; but at a subsequent time, wills something directly opposite : so that one exercise is perfectly good, and a subsequent one, directly the opposite. The warfare consists in one volition's succeeding another !
The same divine, however, concludes by giving the Calvinistic sentiment, (by way of alternation,) that sinful inclinations "defile their best exercises." Syst. Vol. 2. p. 194. Dr. Hopkins, therefore, was almost as much inclined to the "taste or principle theory," as to the "exercise scheme." By inclination he must have intended something different from exercise, and something prior to it; for he would not say, after declaring every exercise to be distinct, and either benevolent or selfish, that one exercise, for ever past, could defile one future, with which it had no connexion. May not, then, an evil disposition exist, which excites to a wicked act? And may not the doctrine of Witsius and his teacher, Calvin, be true, that "holiness denotes that purity of a man in his nature, inclinations and actions, which consists in an imitation and expression of the divine parity?"
Witsius' Econ. B. 3. ch. 12. sec. 10.
The churches, of which they were bishops, had no common confession of faith; and it is not a matter of surprise, therefore, that the clerical conventions should contain a heterogeneous mass of sentiment.
After the business of the day was over, and their younger brethren had generally retired for the night, to several of the neighbouring houses, the three fathers commenced another nocturnal discussion.
Calvinist. In your sermon before the association to-day, brother H. you very boldly advocated your own sentiments; but give me leave to say, I think you was very heretical in your doce trine concerning the imperfection of the saints.
Hopkinsian. Well, Doctor C. we must attempt to settle that matter. I have prepared a dissertation on that subject. What if I should read it; and allow you two, eager critics, to tear me into pieces?
Cal. O produce it: produce it. It will have this good tendency, if no other; to keep us to some point, and preclude vagrant reasonings.
Arminian. I shall be glad to hear it, if I can keep myself awake; but if not, I will tell you what I think of it, when you have done.
Hop. That is to say, you will judge me, as your hearers, rubbing their eyes at the sound of your Amen, judge your dis
All this was spoken in very good nature; so that after a little persuasion, the portable desk was unlocked, and forth came
The Hopkinsian reads.
characters in existence.
"There are three kinds of moral The first is holy; the second, unholy ;
and the third, mixed'; or a combination of the two first. As
cend into heaven, survey all the inhabitants, and it will be found, that from Jehovah on his throne, to the weakest believer, who last arrived at the gate of paradise, all are perfectly holy. However God and his creatures, which are spirits made perfect, differ in other things, in freedom from all sin they are alike and to be free from sin is to be perfect in holiness."
Cal. Hold, hold! The stones of the street, the trees of the forest, and the beasts of the field, are free from all sin, but are not perfect in holiness.
Arm. I think he is right upon my plan, that man is in himself good; that sin is something adventitious; for when this superinduced sin is taken away, man is what he was before; that is, holy, just and good, as a man. Pray, go on Doctor.
Hop. "The glorified saints have the image of God, which they once lost, entirely restored; the temples, which were once in ruins, God has rebuilt; and the whole man is formed after the divine pattern, Jesus Christ.
The second character we find displayed in two worlds. It is. to be seen on earth, and in the prison of despair. If we de-. scend into the dark abode, with the lighted lamp of revelation in our hand, we shall see that all the damned spirits are of one character. They are all unholy. Here is one wretched being, who once inhabited heaven; and here another, who was born on earth; but this makes no difference in their moral image, for one is now the Devil; and the other, the child of the Devil. There is a family likeness between the father and the son. Not one inhabitant of hell has any love to God. Devils and accursed men love the same objects. Their dispositions and actions are of the same description. It may be thought difficult to prove, that any persons, who are still in our world, are of the same class with the unholy in the bottomless pit: but is there a greater difference between Satan and an impenitent sinner, than between God and his glorified saints? Verily, the wicked must be included in the denomination of unholy beings; for "God is not in all their thoughts;" "there is no fear of God before their eyes;" they are "children of wrath ;" and God declares, that they are not
only "sensual," but even "devilish." "Ye are of your father, the Devil," saith the Son of God, "and the works of your father ye will do." Did the evil angels rebel? So have impenitent sinners. Do the evil angels hate God? Wicked men are "haters of God." Does Satan remain unreclaimed by all the mercies and judgments of God? The same is true of impeni tent men. The children of the Devil no more love God, or his Son, or his word, and people, than the Devil himself does. All of this class of unholy beings have hearts, which are enmity against God. None of them has the knowledge of the glory of God. Satan, with eyes of malice, looks upon the ever blessed God as the tyrant of heaven; and the wicked in our world deem him "a hard master," an "adversary;" a cruel, capricious being. Does Satan boast an "unconquerable will," "and courage never to submit ;" or pride, that will not "bow and sue for grace ?" With how much propriety may the sinner confess that he has the same spirit! Does Satan resolve to do his own pleasure, defy OMNIPOTENCE, and challenge the wrath of God to execute its worst judgment! Sinners practically do the same,
Who continues in impenitence, performing his own will, and consents to be a lover of pleasure, more than of God without declaring,
"To reign is worth ambition, though in hell:
I would not insinuate that all unholy beings have the same degree of wickedness; but all are wicked; while some are more wicked, and the devil is, by way of eminence, called "the wicked one;" because most wicked. One may be the least wicked of all unsanctified beings, and yet not have any holiness: no, not the least love, nor the weakest evangelical faith. One too, may be the least in the kingdom of heaven, without partaking in the least degree of sin.
Neither would I be understood to say, that impenitent sinners have nothing about them, or in them, which is naturally good, or in itself lovely. The vilest youthful libertine may have a lovely personal appearance; but this is not holiness: