The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Confession and Infirmity

There is a propriety and a practical importance in the confession of sin, during the whole course of the present life, because our various infirmities, our defects of judgment, our frequent ignorance of the motives and characters of our fel­low-men, and the relatively wrong acts and feelings which originate in these sources from which no one, in the present period of the history of the church, can reasonably expect to be free, require an atonement, as well as our willful or voluntary transgressions. We do not suppose, that it is necessary here to enter into an argument for the purpose of showing, that such imperfections, originally flowing from our fallen condition and our connection with Adam, require the application of Christ' s blood. Such is not only our own belief; but we have reason to believe, that it is a doctrine which is generally conceded by those, who will be likely to take an interest in these inquiries. There are various passages of Scripture, such as Lev. 4:3, and Numb. 15:27-30, which have relation to such infirmities and sins, and which might be properly consulted, if the present were an occasion to enter into a minute examination of the subject.

It is in accordance with what has now been said, that Christians, who are well established in the interior life, whenever they have fallen into such errors and infirmities, experience no true peace of mind, until they find a sense of forgiveness. For an error in judgment, for an ill-placed word when there was no evil design or intention of saying what was wrong, for an action which was undesignedly a mistaken one either through undue remissness or through undue haste, for any unavoidable blindnesses and ignorances whatever, which are followed by evil and unhappy results, they find no resource but in an immediate and believing application to the atoning blood. It is true, they do not ordinarily have those bitter feelings of condemnation and remorse, which they have, when they have committed a deliberate transgression; but they feel deep humiliation and sorrow of heart; they see the results of sin flowing from the original rebellion; and have what may perhaps be called an instinctive conviction, that the occasion is a fitting one for penitent grief and for humble confession. Now as such infirmities are very frequent, and as indeed they are unavoidable, so long as we come short of the intellectual and physical perfection of Adam, we shall have abundant occasion to confess our trespasses; and it will ever be true, that our sin, in this sense of the term, will always be before us.

It may be proper to remark here, that it was probably in this view of the subject that Mr. Wesley, while he maintained with great ability and earnestness the doctrine of Christian perfection or of perfect love, did not hold to the doctrine of sinless perfection. That is to say, he maintained that it was both our duty and our privilege to love God with all our heart; and also that this state of mind, viz. of assured faith and perfected love, had been actually, and in many cases, realized. He maintained, nevertheless, that this state was consistent with all those wrong judgments which are involuntary and unavoidable, and consequently with relatively wrong acts and affections; that we are continually liable to transgress in the respects which have been mentioned, even while we are in a state of perfect love, and that the best of men may say from the heart,

"Every moment, Lord, I need
"The merit of  thy death."

Under these circumstances, he thought it proper and necessary, that even persons, who, on evangelical principles, could justly lay claim to the blessing of sanctification, should continually humble themselves before God and make confession. This view seems to be correct. And it is very desirable when we look at it in its practical results, as well as in its moral relations, that it should continue to be maintained, because it will constantly prompt us not only to seek perfection in love, which is the most important thing, but to seek perfection in manners, habits, health, words, knowledge, and all good judgment.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 2, Chapter 16.

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