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to his will ; yea, in these venial sins, there is an admission of a contrary and unlawful love of the creature into the heart, and not a total subjecting thereof to God.
2. But, secondly, in every venial sin, there is the preferring of something before God, and therefore a manifest transgressing of the law of loving God. As to a formal and explicit preferring the cre ure before God, so as to account the creature a more excellent good than God is, this all those do not that live in the grossest and most mortal wickednesses, as the Papists acknowledge ; for men may live even in the heinous sin of persecution, and yet think thereby they serve and set up God. But as to a virtual and interpretative preferring the creature before God, this men do in the least sin ; they carrying themselves so, as if the creature were to be preferred before God; they fearing not, for the love of the creature, to offend God, and, injuriously to his justice, to break his commandments. And how may a man be said to show by his carriage more respect to the creature than to God, if not by breaking the commands of God, and contemning his will, for the creature ? To shun the dint of this answer, the Papists are forced to this wretched shift ; which is to answer, that he who sins venially, prefers not the creature before God, because he knows that venial sins will not dissolve that knot of love and friendship between God and him. But what a pitiful excuse is this for venial sin ! since, as Baronius well observes, (De Pec. ven. p. 106,) they who commit venial sins, thinking these sins will not dissolve the favour of God, either think such sins are so light and slight that they deserve not the dissolution of God's favour; or they think, though they do deserve that dissolution, yet that God will deal so graciously with them, as that for such sins he will not exclude them from his favour. If they think that they do not deserve the dissolution of God's favour, they grossly err, yea, grievously sin against God, by judging their sing to be light and little, and by a bold fixing of limits to God's justice ; as if God could not justly punish their sins with that penalty which he tells as they deserve. But if they think that their sins do deserve the dissolving of God's favour, and that it is merely from the grace of God that they who commit them are not excluded from it, then it follows that they, for the love of the creature offending God by these sins, prefer the creature before God and his favour : for whosoever for any creature dares do that which may justly exclude him from God's favour, doth prefer the creature before the favour of God. Nor doth their knowledge that these sins do not exclude them from the favour of God, when yet they will commit them, extenuate or excuse their contempt of God's favour, of which they are guilty ; but, contrarily, it aggravates that contempt ; since though they know it is by God's grace and favour that their smaller sins do not exclude them from his love and mercy, yet they abuse the clemency and goodness of God to a licentiousness in sin, which is almost the highest contempt of divine favour imaginable.
ARGUMENT II. My third argument, to prove that no sin is venial, or deserving to be pardoned, shall be drawn from the nature of pardon. Whence I thus argue :
An opinion that overthrows the nature of God's pardoning of sin is impious and erroneous : But this opinion, that some sins are venial, and deserve to be pardoned, doth thus overthrow the nature of God's pardoning of sin : Therefore this opinion is impious and erroneous.
The major, or first proposition, is evident.
The minor, or second proposition, I prove thus : If pardoning of sin designs an act of free grace and favour in pardoning, which God, according to strict justice, might not have done ; and if the doctrine of sin's veniality and deserving to be pardoned makes pardoning an act of justice, so that God cannot but in justice do it ; then the opinion of sin's veniality overthrows the doctrine of divine pardon : But the pardoning of sin designs an act of free grace and favour, which God might not have done unless he had pleased; and the doctrine of sin’s veniality makes the pardoning of sin an act of justice which God cannot but do : Therefore the Popish doctrine of venial sin overthrows the doctrine of divine pardon.
The major, or first proposition, is evident, and will be granted by all. The minor, or second, I prove thus, in both its parts :
As to its first part : it is most manifest that pardon designs an act of free grace and favour. It is needless to multiply scriptures (which to do were most easy) in so clear a point : “Forgiveness of sin according to his grace.” (Eph. i. 7.) According to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm li. 1.) “I obtained mercy,”* saith pardoned Paul. (1 Tim. i. 13.)
For the second part of the minor, that “the doctrine of the Papists about the veniality of sin makes the pardoning of sin an act of justice, which God cannot but do if he will do justly,” is no slander cast upon the Papists in this point: I pray, let them be judged in this case by their own confessions. The council of Mentz professeth, as we heard, that they cannot understand how God should be just, if he punish any for venial sins with eternal punishment. Sonnius (the Papist, I mean) tells us, that venial sin is veniâ dignum,—"Venial sin is worthy of pardon." And Bellarmine, that “they hold with a general consent, that venial sins make not a man guilty of eternal death ;” and he asserts, with intolerable blasphemy, that “God should be unjust, if he punished venial sins eternally ; justice requiring a forbearance to punish that offence which deserves not punishment.”I From all which it follows, that divine pardon is so far from being an act of free grace, in the account of a Papist, that when he recites his Pater-noster, if his devotions agree with his doctrines, he may
say, Lord, pay us,” than, “Forgive us our debts."
ARGUMENT Iv. My fourth argument shall be taken from Christ's rejecting of this pharisaical depravation of the law of God,—that some commands of the law, and some sins against those commands, are so small and slight, that God will not require a perfect fulfilling of the law as to lesser and smaller commands, nor the necessary avoiding of such sins as are against those smaller commands.—The words of Christ are these : “ Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matt. v. 18.) The Lord Christ by
• Misericordia donatus sum.-Beza. “I have been endowed with mercy."--Edit. † Binius, tom. ix, cap. 46. 1 Injustum est punire peccata venialia pænd æterná.
De Amiss. Grat. lib. i. cap. 14.
these words, wherein he shows it is impossible that any thing in the law, though accounted never so small, should pass from it, but all must be fulfilled with a perfect satisfaction, opposeth the Pharisees; whotaking it for granted, that there was necessarily required to righteousness and life a perfect fulfilling of the law; and yet finding that it was impossible to keep the minutissima legis [“ the least commands of the law”]; as, to abstain from all sinful inward motions in the mind and heart, from “every idle word,” &c.; to have such a perfect conformity to the law, that there should be no lusting contrary to it—coined this distinction, that some of the commands of the law were small, and some great ; and though none could in those little commands against sinful motions of the heart perfectly satisfy the law, yet if he kept the great commandments of the law concerning outward acts and works of the law, he should be just before God; since those commands of little things were but little commands, and therefore would not condemn a man for transgressing of them, provided that he performed the external works commanded in those great commands. Now “Christ vehemently denies that there are any commands of the law so small and minute as that God would not much regard them ; or of which, in the stablishing [of] the righteousness of the law before God, a man should give no account for the break. ing of them, but God would account him righteous, whether he observed them or no. And therefore, to show the necessity of fulfilling the law in the most perfect and exact manner, Christ assures, [that] there should not pass from the law one jot or tittle' thereof that should not be fulfilled."*
Not a "jot,” the least letter, not a "tittle,” the least point, but was so highly accounted of by God, that before they should pass away without being fulfilled, “heaven and earth should pass away." So that there was required to the fulfilling of the law, that all things in it, even to the least apex or “ tittle,” should be fulfilled. To which doctrine of Christ agrees that of Moses and Paul, (Deut. xxvii. 26 ; Gal. iii. 10,) who denounced a curse not only against those who continued not in the great things, but in “all things, written in the law;” and of James, who saith, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James ii. 10.) And this “one” is here to be taken for any one : as, Luke xv. 4: “If he have a hundred sheep, and lose one,” that is, any one : so, Matt. x. 42 : “ Whosoever shall give a cup of cold water to one,” that is, to any one,“ of the least” believers, &c. So that unum, “one,” is equivalent to quodlibet ; as here, “ One jot or tittle of the law,” that is, “ Any one jot or tittle of the law, shall not pass away,” but must “be fulfilled.”
ARGUMENT v. My fifth argument is taken from that macula, or “stain,” or “ filth,” that every sin, even the least and lightest, leaves behind it. This stain, left behind the commission of every sin, is by several considered several ways : either as an habitual aversion from God;
• Christus fortissime negat esse quædam mandata in lege ita minuta, qua Deus non mul. tùm curat ; quorum etiam, quamvis non impleantur, non sit habenda ratio in statuenda justitid legis coram Deo. Ut itaque perfectissimam legis impletionem necessariam esse Christus ostendat, ne unum quidem literæ apicem cadere pronuntiat, quod non sit necesse impleri. -CHEMNITI Harm. cap. li. p. 337 (mihi). Cujus prastantissima commentaria in hunc locum opto ut inspiciunt lectores et perlegant. “ Whose most excellent comments upon this passage I wish my readers to peruse and read through.”—Epit.
or as an habitual disconformity to the law of God; or as the impairing of inherent grace, (the beauty of the soul,) and the weakening of its acts; or as a greater habitude and inclination to sin. In regard of some or all of these left upon the soul after the commission of any sin, it is said, that sin defiles and pollutes ; (Matt. xv. 11, 18; Rev. xxii. 11 ;) and that every sin is a “spot,” (Eph. v. 27,) and “filthiness.” (2 Cor. vii. 1 ; James i. 21; Ezek. xxiv. 13 ; xxxvi. 25.) And when a man repents of sin, and hath sin pardoned to him, he is said to be “washed” and “cleansed.” (1 Cor. vi. 11; 2 Cor. vii. 1; Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 33.) And because we are said to be “ cleansed from all sin,” (1 John i. 7,) therefore all sins, even such as Papists call “ venial,” leave a spot and stain upon the sinner, even as Vasquez, the Jesuit, confesseth.* Now since there is this stain and (which] defilement befalls us after every sin, there follows an exclusion for all sin from the kingdom of heaven, into which no unclean thing shall enter ; (Rev. xxi. 27 ;) and that exclusion, Bellarmine tells us, is proper to mortal sins:t and indeed that which excludes from heaven, must needs deserve eternal death, and so be mortal. And that this exclusion is not to all, perpetual, it is not from the nature of sin, nor from the cleansing virtue of any purgatory-fire ; but merely of God in Christ pardoning and purifying.
ARGUMENT VI. My sixth argument is taken from the power of God justly to forbid the least sin under the pain of an eternal penalty.—Now if God can justly prohibit the least sins under an eternal penalty, then may he justly punish those sins prohibited with that eternal penalty. And that God may prohibit the least sin under an eternal penalty, is evident, not only because the will of God forbidding any sin under an eternal penalty is a sufficient reason of that penalty, and makes the punishment proportionable to the demerit of the sin ; but because God hath actually prohibited, under pain of eternal punishment, things in themselves lawful and indifferent ; (as abstinence from several kinds of meats, blood, &c. ;) and, therefore, surely he may forbid all sin under that penalty. Yea, God, in the covenant of works made with Adam, actually prohibited all sin under the penalty of eternal death ; which is evident, because if God promised eternal life to Adam upon condition of perfect obedience, certainly the commission of the least sin would have made Adam liable to eternal death : for, He that performs not the condition prescribed in the covenant cannot obtain the reward ; but, contrarily, deserves the punishment appointed against those who violate the covenant: But if Adam had committed the least sin, he had not performed the condition prescribed in the covenant, which was perfect obedience : Therefore he had deserved the penalty appointed against the violaters of the covenant. And if the covenant of works bound not Adam to avoid every sin for the escaping of eternal death, then it bound him (as the covenant of grace binds us) to repent of sin for the escaping of eternal death ; there being no remission of any sin, or avoiding of eternal punish
Negari non potest hominem vere manere pollutum ex peccato veniali quod semel commisit, donec ab eo justificetur : nam qui a peccato veniali justificatur, vere dicitur ab eo emundari.--VASQUEZ in Primam Secunda, disp. cxxxix. cap. 4. “It cannot be denied that a man remains truly polluted with a venial sin which he has once committed, until he is justified from it: for he who is justified from a venial sin, is truly said to be cleansed from it."-EDIT. † De Amiss. Grat. lib. i. cap. 6.
ment for it, without repentance. But under the covenant of works there was no obligation to repentance for sin. For if there had been
obligation to repentance for sin, there must have been a promise of pardon upon repentance ; but that is false, because the promise of pardon belongs only to the covenant of grace, pardon being only bestowed through Christ.
ARGUMENT VII. Seventhly. I argue from the typical remission of sins in the Old Testament.—For they were then commanded to offer sacrifices, not only for greater and more enormous offences, but for their lesser sins; (as those of infirmity and ignorance, which the Papists call and account “venial ;') as is evident from Lev. iv. 2, 13, 22, &c. ; and v. 17. Now those sacrifices respected that only sacrifice of Christ by which all our sins are expiated, as Christ was made a curse for us that he might deliver us from the curse. (Gal. iii. 13.) And from this, saith the learned Walæus, invictè demonstratur, * "it is invincibly demonstrated,” that every sin of itself is mortal.
ARGUMENT vii. Eighthly. I argue from the infinity of evil that is in every sin, to its desert of an infinite punishment.—That every sin is an infinite evil, is most certain. I mean not, that it is infinite intensivè, “as to itself or bulk," as I may say; for as the sinner is but finite, so sin is a privation but of a finite rectitude; and if every sin were infinite in its intensiveness, all sins would be equal. But yet two ways sin is infinite :-1. Objectivè, because committed against an Infinite Majesty. 2. Extensive, and in respect of its duration, because its stain and defilement last for ever, in regard of the sinner, who cannot of himself repent. In like manner there is an infinite punishment due to sin. I mean not, a punishment infinite intensivè ; for a finite creature cannot be capable of an infinite torture ; but yet an infinite punishment is due to sin two ways, as sin was said to be two ways infinite :- 1. A punishment is due to sin, infinite objectivè, by the sinner’s being deprived of that Infinite Good against whom he hath here offended, and whom he hath here neglected and despised. 2. A punishment infinite extensivè, in respect of its duration for ever; because the stain contracted from sin committed in this life endures for ever : and therefore the wicked, who continue for ever fædi, “ filthy” and “unclean,” continue for ever Dei consortio indigni, “unworthy of ever having communion with God.” Qui nunquam desinit esse malus, nunquam desinit esse miser : “ He that never ceaseth to be evil, never ceaseth to be miserable.” The most venial fault, therefore, being an infinite fault, deserves an infinite punishment. That it is an infinite fault, it is plain, because it is against the infinite majesty of the Lawgiver, and because its stain of itself, and without the mercy of God, endures for ever.
ARGUMENT ix. Ninthly. That all sins, even such as Papists call "venial sins," deserve an eternal punishment, is evident, because the least sins of reprobates, “idle words,” shall be punished with eternal punishment.—That those least sins shall be punished eternally, is plain from Matt. xii. 36, 37: “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” This
Synopsis purioris Theologiæ, de Pec. act. p. (mihi) 176. VOL. VI.