REGENERATION AND ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION NOT IDENTICAL.
"Is there then sin in him that is in Christ? Does sin remain in one that believes in Him? Is there any sin in them that are born of God, or are they wholly delivered from it? Let no one imagine this to be a question of mere curiosity; or, that it is of little importance whether it be determined one way or the other. Rather, it is a point of the utmost moment to every serious Christian; the resolving of which very nearly concerns both his present and eternal happiness.
"And yet I do not know that ever it was controverted in the primitive Church. Indeed, there was no room for disputing concerning it, as all Christians were agreed. And so far as I have ever observed, the whole body of ancient Christians, who have left us anything in writing, declare with one voice, that even believers in Christ, till they are 'strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might,' have need to 'wrestle with flesh and blood,' with an evil nature, as well as 'with principalities and powers.'
"And herein our own church (as indeed in most points) exactly copies after the primitive; declaring in her ninth article, 'Original sin is the corruption of the nature of every man whereby every man is in his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth contrary to the Spirit. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe, yet this last hath of itself the nature of sin.' . . .
"Accordingly, believers are continually exhorted to watch against the flesh, as well as the world and the devil. And to this agrees the constant experience of the children of God. While they feel the witness in themselves, they feel a will not wholly resigned to the will of God. They know they are in Him; and yet find a heart ready to depart from Him, a 'proneness to evil in many instances, and a backwardness to that which is good. The contrary doctrine is wholly new; never heard of in the Church of Christ, from the time of His coming into the world, till the time of Count Zinzendorf; and it is attended with the most fatal consequence. It cuts off all watching against our evil nature, against the Delilah which we are told is gone, though she is still lying in our bosom. It tears away the shield of weak believers, deprives them of their faith, and so leaves them exposed to all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and the devil." — Sermon on "Sin in Believers", vol. i. p. 108-115.
"It has been observed before, that the opposite doctrine, that there is no sin in believers, is quite new in the Church of Christ; that it was never heard of for seventeen hundred years; never till it was discovered by Count Zinzendorf. I do not remember to have seen the least intimation of it, either in any ancient or modern writer; unless perhaps in some of the wild, ranting Antinomians. And these likewise say and unsay, acknowledging there is sin in their flesh, although no sin in the heart." —Sermons, vol. 1. p. 111.
"By sin, I here understand inward sin; any sinful temper, passion, or affection; such as pride, self-will, love of the world, in any kind or degree; such as lust, anger, peevishness; any disposition contrary to the mind which was in Christ
"The question is not concerning outward sin whether a child of God commit sin or no. We all agree and earnestly' maintain, 'He that committeth sin is of the devil.' We agree, Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.' Neither do we now inquire, whether inward sin will always remain in the children of God; whether sin will continue in the soul, as long as it continues in the body; nor yet do we inquire, whether a justified person may relapse either into inward or outward sin; but simply this, — is a justified or regenerate man freed from all sin as soon as he is justified? Is there then no sin in his heart? — nor ever after, unless he fall from grace?" — Sermons, vol.1. p. 109.
"How naturally do those who experience such a change, imagine that all sin is gone; that it is utterly rooted out of their heart, and has no more any place therein? How easily do they draw that inference: 'I feel no sin; therefore I have none; it does not stir; therefore it does not exist; it has no motion; therefore it has no being.
"But it is seldom long before they are undeceived, finding sin was only suspended, not destroyed. Temptations return, and sin revives; showing it was but stunned before, not dead. They now feel two principles in themselves, plainly contrary to each other: 'the flesh lusting against the Spirit; nature opposing the grace of God. They cannot deny, that, although they still feel power to believe in Christ, and love God; and, although His 'Spirit (still) witnesses with their spirits, that they are children of God; 'yet they feel in themselves sometimes pride or self-will, sometimes anger or unbelief.'" — Sermons, vol. i. p. 385, written in 1765.
"And as this position, there is no sin in a believer no carnal mind, no bent to backsliding, is thus contrary to the Word of God, so it is to the experience of His children. These continually feel a heart bent to backsliding; a natural tendency to evil; a proneness to depart from God, and cleave to the things of earth. They are daily sensible of sin remaining in the heart, pride, self-will, unbelief; and of sin cleaving to all they speak or do, even their best actions and holiest duties Yet at the same time they 'know that they are of God;' they cannot doubt of it for a moment They feel His Spirit clearly 'witnessing with their spirit, that they are the children of God,' They rejoice in God through Christ Jesus, 'by whom they have now received the atonement.' So that they are equally assured, that sin is in them, and that 'Christ is in them the hope of glory.' . . . 'That believers are delivered from the guilt and power of sin we allow; that they are delivered from the being of it we deny . . .. Christ, indeed, can not reign where sin reigns; neither will he dwell where sin is allowed. But he is and dwells in the heart of every believer who is fighting against all sin, although it be not yet purified . . . . Indeed, this grand point, that there are two contrary principles in [unsanctified] believers — nature and grace, the flesh and the spirit — runs through all the Epistles of St Paul, yea, through all the Holy Scriptures; almost all the directions and exhortations therein are founded on this supposition, pointing at wrong tempers or practices in those who are, notwithstanding, acknowledged by the inspired writers to be believers."
"One argument more against this new, unscriptural doctrine, may be drawn from the dreadful consequences of it. One says, 'I felt anger today.' Must I reply, 'Then you have no faith?' Another says, 'I know what you advise is good, but my will is quite averse to it.' Must I tell him, 'Then you are an unbeliever, under the wrath and the curse of God?' What will be the natural consequence of this? Why, if he believes what I say, his soul will not only be grieved and wounded, but perhaps utterly destroyed; inasmuch as he will 'cast away' that 'confidence which hath great recompense of reward;' and having cast away his shield, how shall he 'quench the fiery darts of the wicked one?' How shall he overcome the world? seeing 'this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our fall' He stands disarmed in the midst of his enemies, open to all their assaults. What wonder, then, if he be utterly overthrown; if they take him captive at their will; yea, if he fall from one wickedness to another, and never see good any more? I cannot, therefore, by any means, receive this assertion, that there is no sin in a believer from the moment he is justified; first, because it is contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture; secondly, because it is contrary to the experience of the children of God — thirdly, because it is absolutely new, never heard of in the world till yesterday; and, lastly, because it is naturally attended with the most fatal consequences; not only grieving those whom God hath not grieved, but perhaps dragging them into everlasting perdition." — Sermons, vol. i. p. 110, 111.
"I say, repentance, rightly understood; for this must not, be confounded with the former repentance. The repentance consequent upon justification is widely different from that which is antecedent to it. This implies no guilt, no sense of condemnation, no consciousness of the wrath of God. It does not suppose any doubt of the favor of God, or any 'fear that hath torment.' It is properly a conviction wrought by the Holy Ghost, of the sin which still remains in our heart; of the φρόνημα σαρκὸς, the carnal mind which 'does still remain (as our church speaks), even in them that are regenerate;' although it does no longer reign; it has not now dominion over them. It is a conviction of our proneness to evil, of a heart bent to backsliding, of the still continuing tendency of the flesh to lust against the Spirit. Sometimes, unless we continually watch and pray, it lusteth to pride, sometimes to anger, sometimes to love of the world, love of honor, or love of pleasure more than of God." — Sermons, vol. i. p.389, written in 1765.
"From what has been said, we may easily learn the mischievousness of that opinion, that we are wholly sanctified when we are justified; that our hearts are then cleansed from all sin. It is true, we are then delivered, as was observed before, from the dominion of outward sin; and at the same time, the power of inward sin is so broken, that we need no longer follow, or be led by it; but it is by no means true, that inward sin is then totally destroyed; that the root of pride, self-will, anger, love of the world, is then taken out of the heart; or that the carnal mind, and the heart bent to backsliding, are entirely extirpated. And to suppose the contrary, is not, as some may think, an innocent, harmless mistake. No: it does immense harm; it entirely blocks up the way to any farther change: for it is manifest, 'They that are whole do not need a physician, but they that are sick.' If, therefore, we think we are quite made whole already, there is no room to seek any farther healing. On this supposition it is absurd to expect a farther deliverance from sin, whether gradual or instantaneous." — Sermons vol. i. p. 124.
"Hence may appear the extreme mischievousness of that seemingly innocent opinion, That there is no sin in a believer; that all sin is destroyed, root and branch, the moment a man is justified. By totally preventing that repentance, it quite blocks up the way to sanctification; there is no place for repentance in him who believes there is no sin either in his life or heart: consequently there is no place for his being perfected in love, to which that repentance is indispensably necessary." — Sermons, vol. i. p. 390.
"Suppose this is done, suppose he has now quickened us, infusing life into our dead souls; yet how much of the carnal mind remains. How prone is our heart to depart from the living God! What a tendency to sin remains in our heart, although we know our past sins are forgiven. And how much sin, in spite of all our endeavors, cleaves both to our words and actions! Who can be duly sensible, how much remains in him of his natural enmity to God!" — Sermons, vol. ii. p. 158.
"For even good men, in general, though sin has not dominion over them, yet are not freed from the remains of it. They have still the remains of an evil heart, ever prone to 'depart from the living God.' They have the seeds of pride, of anger, of foolish desire, indeed, of every unholy temper." — Sermons, vol. ii. p. 214.
"Only let it be remembered, that the heart of even a believer is not wholly purified when he is justified. Sin is then overcome, but it is not rooted out; it is conquered, but not destroyed. Experience shows him, first, that the root of sin, self-will, pride, and idolatry, remain still in his heart. But as long as he continues to watch and pray, none of these can prevail over him." — Sermons, vol. ii. p. 476.
"But though we readily acknowledge, 'he that belleveth is born of God,' and 'he that is born of God doth not commit sin,' yet we cannot allow that he does not feel it within; it does not reign, but it does remain. And a conviction of the sin which remains in our heart, is one great branch of the repentance we are now speaking of." — Sermons, vol. ii. p. 117.
"Neither, therefore, dare we affirm (as some have done) that this full salvation is at once given to true believers. There is, indeed, an instantaneous (as well as a gradual) work of God in the souls of His children; and there wants not, we know, a cloud of witnesses, who have received, in one moment, either a clear sense of the forgiveness of their sin or the abiding witness of the Holy Spirit. But we do not know a single instance, in any place, of a person's receiving, in one and the same moment, remission of sins, the abiding witness of the Spirit, and a new, a clean heart," — Works, vol. vii. p. 596.
"Your finding sin remaining in you still, is no proof that you are not a believer. Sin does remain in one that is justified, though it has not dominion over him. For he has not a clean heart at first, neither are 'all things' as yet 'become new.' But fear not, though you have an evil heart, Yet a little while, and you shall be endued with power from on high, whereby you may 'purify yourselves, even as He is pure;' and be 'holy, as He which hath called you is holy.'" — Journal, June, 1740.
"I have so often explained this, that I cannot throw away time in adding any more now; only this — that the moment a sinner is justified, his heart is cleansed in a low degree. But yet he has not a clean heart, in the full, proper sense, till be is made perfect in love." — Works, vol. v. p. 284.
"At every place, I endeavored to settle the minds of the poor people, who had been not a little harassed by a new doctrine which honest Jonathan C—— and his converts had industriously propagated among them, — that there is no sin in believers; but the moment we believe, sin is destroyed, 'root and branch.' I trust this plague also is stayed; but how ought those unstable ones to be ashamed who are so easily 'tossed about with every wind of doctrine!' " — Journal, June, 1763.
To Rev. Joseph Benson, in 1770: —
"Now, can any be justified, but by faith? None can. Therefore, you are a believer; you have faith in Christ; you know the Lord; you can say, 'My Lord and my God.' And whoever denies this, may as well deny that the sun shines at noonday.
Yet still ten thousand lusts remain,
And vex your soul, absolved from sin;
Still rebel nature strives to reign,
And you are all unclean, unclean!
This is equally clear and undeniable. And this is not only your experience, but the experience of a thousand believers beside, who yet are sure of God's favor, as of their own existence. To cut off all doubt on this head, I beg you to give another serious reading to those two sermons, 'Sin in Believers,' and 'The Repentance of Believers.'
"'But is there no help? Is there no deliverance, no salvation from this inbred enemy'? Surely there is; else many great and precious promises must fall to the ground. 'I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you.' 'I will circumcise thy heart' (from all sin), 'to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.' This I term sanctification (which is both an instantaneous and a gradual work), or perfection, the being perfected in love, filled with love, which still admits of a thousand degrees. — Works, vol. vii. p. 71.
"They know (the Methodists), indeed, that at the same time a man is justified, sanctification properly begins. For when he is justified, he is 'born again,' 'born from above'; 'born of the Spirit'; which, although it is not (as some suppose) the whole process of sanctification, is, doubtless, the gate of it" — Sermons, vol. ii. p. 390.
"It is, then, a great blessing given to his people (the Methodists), that as they do not speak of justification so as to supersede sanctification, so neither do they speak of sanctification, so as to supersede justification. They take care to keep each in its own place, laying equal stress on one and the other. They know God has joined these together, and it is not for man to put them asunder; therefore they maintain, with equal zeal and diligence, the doctrine of free, full, present justification, on the one hand; and of entire sanctification, both of heart and life, on the other. — Sermons, vol.11. p.390. Written in 1765.