"Higher Holiness": A Review

 •  31 min. read  •  grade level: 7
THE question of holiness has recently stirred up too widely the Christian mind not to give attention to every form in which it is claimed. It has, I believe, usefully roused Christians' minds to the sense that there ought to be deliverance from the bondage of sin, and more entire devotedness to Christ-selfsurrender to Him. As is ever the case, when what is true and important is based upon false principles, it has been accompanied by, or mixed up with, what is false-with the fruit of these false principles. Our part is to separate the precious from the vile, that we be as God's mouth.
The form in which this demand of holiness or perfection has been put forward, whether by Wesleyans or Mr. Pearsall Smith, has been pretty fully met, and I do not now recur to their views. The Moderator of the Free Church Assembly has stated his views on the subject; and as they involve some very important principles, and the position and character of Dr. Stuart will naturally command the respect of many, I will briefly weigh his statements. An excellent man, I doubt not, though personally unacquainted with him, and sound in the faith, he will not object to his sentiments being weighed by scripture. His mind, at any rate his statements, are neither clear nor accurate, always a difficulty in reviewing the thoughts of another. They are vague; but certain great principles are sufficiently clear to examine whether they are scriptural.
But I shall notice some of this vagueness where all is well meant. For the real result is that, with the best intentions, the statements mean nothing: only they ignore the true question.
" Outside the camp (he tells us) we find the Holy One numbered with transgressors. In that same hour his blood purges our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. We are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, in mind, in will, in heart; and sin hath not dominion over us because we are under grace." This is merely using the general effect for the reality of the state; the question of a new nature or life, and of the law, is carefully dropped. But I add, sin where? If it be in us, the whole man is not renewed. Scripture says, the new man is renewed in knowledge after God-is created in righteousness and true holiness; never that the whole man is. Practically sanctifying wholly is spoken of, and our being preserved; but the old man is said to be put off, not renewed. Scripture makes the division Dr. Stuart objects to. In fact, Dr. Stuart reduces the new birth to being born of water, leaving out being born of the Spirit. Death, not change, is what frees [justifies] us from sin. Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed [rendered null]. But of this point I will speak farther on.
Dr. Stuart says one stain would occupy the stained person in heaven. I quite agree; and more, it would spoil heaven itself. But what stain? guilt or unholiness? He had spoken of our past stains, and also of the poison of sin, then generally of our stains, as to our qualification to be in heaven. Scripture says, " Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," speaking of all Christians, and does not refer meetness to progress.
Many would reject this, but it is scripture they reject. Scripture does speak of progress continually, but not in this connection.
" It cannot however," we are told, " be set forth as within the plan of redemption that perfect holiness should be ours on earth. If we wash our hands with snow water, and make ourselves never so clean, we are quickly plunged into the ditch again, and compelled to cry out, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? ' "
But there is no such thought as this in scripture. Job says, " Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and my own clothes shall abhor me." Dr. Stuart's holiness is a very poor thing, plunging immediately in the ditch again when we have cleansed ourselves. But Job is saying that his cleansing himself was nothing before God; he was as a man plunged in a ditch. " We are not, therefore, defeated," Dr. Stuart tells us; " we have learned that sin is not omnipotent over us, but that grace is omnipotent over sin." How so, if " we are quickly plunged into the ditch again? " Who plunges us? " There is no sin, no temptation, no obstinacy, no vitality of sin, which grace is not almighty to overcome, and at last to uproot it." Does this mean a sinful habit? If so, I should not deny this. But sin in the flesh-is that uprooted? Is it in the new man?
" Where sin and Christ met together on the cross, Christ finished transgression for us, and made an end of sin." Christ was made sin for us who knew no sin; but sin and Christ meeting on the cross has no truth in it at all. I have no doubt this is a misapplication of the passage, but I leave that aside. But Dr. Stuart adds, " And so in us, when sin and the grace of Jesus Christ meet together, grace triumphs-in the end always triumphs, and over every kind of sin." What has this to do with Christ " made sin " on the cross? and how do sin and grace meet together in us? What does sin mean here? I suppose a particular lust; but all is vague. The whole man was said to be renewed in mind, will, heart. The man was plunged quickly, it is true, in the ditch, yet not defeated! The teaching is really deplorable, and so vague that no soul can find where it is, save that, with a sense that it ought to triumph, it experiences being " plunged in the ditch," and cries out, " O wretched man that I am! " And this is holiness!
As to " Job, Daniel, and Paul," the statement that " the higher any man rises in nearness and in likeness to God, he is always the more deeply conscious of sin," is entirely unfounded. Job failed exactly in being conscious of sin, and made himself more just than God, and was overwhelmed into abhorrence of himself by God's revelation of Himself. Daniel never speaks of sin in himself at all, but in grace identifies himself with the past sins of Israel. Of Paul I will speak more fully. But there is no kind of evidence, that the nearer he was to God, the more conscious he was of sin.
Besides, it is the excessive vagueness of all this I complain of. What does conscious of sin mean? of its power actually in us? that there is an evil nature in us always simply bad? How then, is the whole man renewed?
That is the division of nature which Dr. Moody Stuart rejects. That the nearer we are to God the more we judge sin by a divine measure in ourselves, as in nature, is quite true; but that is not being more conscious of sin. All is deplorably vague and uncertain; and he whose whole man is renewed is at the same time, we are told, carnal, sold under sin. All this flows from denying the opposition of the flesh and spirit, and putting the Christian under the law, according to Rom. 7, reducing us to Judaism; for in the Old Testament the doctrine as to the conflict of natures was not revealed, and the character, of holiness pretty much what Dr. Stuart makes it-integrity of heart, loyalty of heart to God. God has now revealed Himself, and makes us partakers of His holiness. If I take the law as my measure, it is unscriptural to say, when I have the power of Christ, I cannot keep it. It is saying I must sin, which is not true. To say in many things we do all offend, is scriptural; to say that we must, is very evil.
Again, to say that it would be necessary for one child of God, who strives to be in the fear of God all the day long, to live for a day in the measure of hardness and deadness of another, is senseless, because if he were in the deadness and hardness he would not feel the evil.
The teaching then is most vague and unsatisfactory; but I must go to its root.
As to mistaken views, that holiness is in the will, so that we may pass over emotions (or, as the American perfectionists say, suggestions), as not sin, I reject with Dr. Stuart; so also that all is sunshine. These therefore I leave aside.
On his first mistaken view of holiness I shall dwell. As Dr. Stuart states it, I know of none who hold it save the followers of Freulich, and another in Switzerland. It is not forgotten that it is one person by those who hold, scripturally, the division of flesh and the divine life, the contrariety of flesh and spirit; nor is the sinfulness of the old nature accounted little-it is accounted absolutely and always bad; enmity against God; that it cannot be subject to His law. They insist on its absolute and permanent sinfulness as a nature, wholly bad, the source of evil lusts and enmity against God; that practically it should always be held to be dead. They do not believe that bondage to it, " carnal, sold under sin," is the Christian state.
Dr. Moody Stuart says, " As regards what constitutes holiness in redeemed men on earth, the dangerous opinion has been advanced, which makes a very excessive distinction, or rather division, between the new man and the old, between the flesh and the spirit in the believer, as if the sinfulness of the flesh were to be disregarded on account of the holiness of the spirit: forgetting that it is still one person in whom the evil and the good are found."
There cannot be " an excessive distinction or division " if there be two opposed natures; still less so, if -one be divine, the other sinful. If two, there is division; if one be divine, the other sinful, there cannot be excess in distinguishing them. This is the question which Dr. Stuart ignores or swamps under the general charge of excess.
Let us see what is plainly declared in scripture.
First, " That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," John 3:66That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6). Is not this distinguishing them completely in their origin and nature, carefully so distinguishing, making a division between two distinct and contrary natures?
Man must be born anew (anothen). " Anew " is not a change or purifying what exists, but what, from the beginning onward, is a new birth.
We are born of God afresh; " of His own will begat he us by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures "; we are " born of the incorruptible seed of the word," and receiving Christ, He is our life. "And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life. He that hath not the Son of God hath not life." It is that which Adam innocent had not more than Adam guilty. " Christ is our life." It is not we that live, but " Christ liveth in us." Our duty is to manifest the life of Jesus in our bodies.
That this produces a change in the whole man is most true, yet it is not a change, but a new thing given-eternal life that God hath given us, that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us, and is become our life, Christ, the second Man. It is not I, but Christ that lives in me. Nothing can be more distinct than the corrupt first Adam, the flesh, and Christ, the last Adam, who, risen from the dead, is become " our life."
Let us see if scripture does not distinguish and oppose them one to another. As to the flesh, " it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, and the Spirit is life because of righteousness," Rom. 8:7-107Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:7‑10). Does not this put them in division and formal opposition? Again, in Gal. 5:1717For 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. (Galatians 5:17), " The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other." Could there be a plainer or more formal statement of what Dr. Moody Stuart objects to, or contradiction of his objection?
But this contrariety is expressed in the strongest way in scripture. Christians have put off the old man with his deeds; where, note, the deeds, the fruits, are distinguished from the man or nature. They have put on the new man. This new man is created after God. But more: death is the portion of the old man. Our old man is crucified with Christ, dead with Christ. We are dead and our life hid with Christ our life; to reckon ourselves dead and alive to God, not in Adam but in Christ. In us, that is, in our flesh, dwells no good thing, but Christ lives in us. So for practice we are to carry about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our bodies. He that is dead is freed (justified) from sin. And this old man and sin in the flesh is condemned wholly and finally, but, for faith, dead. " The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh."
The doctrinal portion of the whole Epistle to the Romans is divided into two parts. The first part of it tells us how grace has met our guilt, as having sinned, by Christ's death; and, secondly, from chapter 5: 12, how we have died with Christ, and thus sin in the flesh met. All this is ignored by Dr. Stuart, and merged in a renewal of the whole man. The works of the flesh, and the fruit of the Spirit, are contrasted in scripture as flowing from two distinct sources-the divine nature, under the power of the Spirit, and the flesh, in which no good thing dwells, from which deliverance is only by death, actually by actual death, and practically now by reckoning ourselves dead, as crucified with Christ.
This leads me to Rom. 7, in which this system of Dr. Moody Stuart's leaves the Christian, just as scripture carefully takes him out of it. And I do not conceal from myself that, quite admitting the personal piety of those who do not see it, this changes the whole nature and character of Christianity. Paul diligently teaches that a Christian is not where this system leaves him, and that he who is in Rom. 7 is not in the proper sense a Christian at all.
We must not blink the full assertion of this-IT IS A QUESTION OF WHAT CHRISTIANITY PRACTICALLY IS. A soul may be in the way, and He who has begun the good work will perfect it; but he is not yet in the Christian state at all while he is in the state described in Rom. 7 The prodigal was converted, repentant, on the right road; but he had not the best robe on till he met his father; Luke 15.
I believe it often happens that the mind is in Rom. 7 through bad teaching, when it is really delivered in its relationship with God; many are so. But this does not affect the fact that there are two states entirely distinct, one the Christian state, the other not; not merely knowing it or not (of this I have spoken), but two distinct states.
Israel out of Egypt and brought to God's holy habitation, as in Ex. 15, was in a different state from Israel in Egypt, though God had visited them. The prodigal converted and repentant, without the best robe and having never met his father, was in a different condition from what he was with the best robe on him, and fit, and then only fit, to go into the house. Before, it was his own thoughts of what might be his state when he arrived; but when come, all was wholly and solely and actually according to his father's revealed mind.
Dr. Stuart, with alas! thousands of others, puts the Christian in the experience of Rom. 7, and consequently treats him as carnal, sold under sin. I affirm that the whole object of the apostle's reasoning is to show that a Christian is not there, but delivered from it, and that deliverance from it is the only true Christian state. Indeed I say more, namely, that what the apostle insists on is the absolute incompatibility of the two states-that a person can no more be under the authority of the law and that of Christ at the same time, than a woman have two husbands. This makes the issue definite and plain enough, and I state it so because I am persuaded that it is a question of what true Christianity is, and in these days is of vital importance. Many, many years I have taken the same ground for the deliverance of individual souls; but things are come to a crisis, and all is inquired into, and it behooves us to know what the word of God teaches.
I have already stated that the doctrinal portion of the Epistle to the Romans is composed of two parts, which divide at the end of chapter 5: 11. (Chaps. 9, 10, 1 I are an appendix to reconcile the promises made to the Jews, with his no-difference doctrine.) The former part treats the question of sins or guilt; the second, sin, or the evil nature-the flesh. With Dr. Moody Stuart, stains of guilt and stains of unholiness are all thrown together, and all is vague.
Let us now see how the Spirit of God treats the question of sin and the flesh. He leaves the ground of individual responsibility and works, on which we are guilty, and exposed to judgment, and leads us up to the great heads, Adam and Christ, the law coming in, by the bye (pareiselthe), between. But by one man's disobedience the many (all connected with him, of polloi) were made sinners, by one man's obedience the many (all connected with Him) should be made righteous. The objection of the world rises up at once; if one man's obedience constitutes me righteous, I may live on in sin. The answer is not to put man again under law, as is done so unscripturally in a flesh which cannot be subject to it, but to deliver man from sin in a wholly new life which does not come from the first Adam at all, but from Christ, the last Adam, so that He should live in this life: but more, His death to the old Adam-life also—not physically of course, but by faith, in that Christ, who is our life, has died. We have been crucified with Him, nevertheless we live; but not we, but Christ lives in us.
Let us see what is said of this in Rom. 6, which is the full statement of this great truth. Let my reader remember that this part of the epistle does not treat of sins and guilt, but of sin; of the tree, and not of the fruit. How have we part in this righteousness of chapter 5? In having part in death- Christ's death. How then live on? That is the apostle's thesis. " How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein? " The very profession we make, what we are baptized to, is to Christ's death; and we know that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed (katergethe). In that Christ died He died unto sin, and in that He liveth He liveth unto God. " Likewise reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord "-not in Adam: as to that, we are to reckon ourselves dead.
Then comes our yielding ourselves to God (the practical walk of godliness in its root principle) as those that are alive from the dead. Thus the Christian is placed on a sure and fixed basis for his walk. He has died in Christ, and he lives in Christ, since he is justified from sin. You cannot charge evil lusts and a wicked will on a dead man. This shows the importance of distinguishing sin and sins. While alive he may have committed all manner of sins, and have to answer for them; but you cannot charge a dead man with sin as a present thing.
How does this affect the question of his being under law? He is not under it at all; Rom. 6:1414For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14). Law has power over a man so long as he lives; but we have died. We have become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that we might be married to another, to Christ that is raised from the dead; (chap. 7: 4). The metaphor is changed in verse 6 (not indeed in the text, which makes the law die as the first husband); but the marginal reading is, I may say, universally accepted as true, as indeed it connects itself with the whole reasoning of the passage. We have died, and are freed from the first husband, the law; we (katergethemen) have been set aside from the law, having died in it. As he says in Gal. 1 through the law am dead to the law by the body of Christ. If a man had died simply by the law to it, it was condemnation too; but being in Christ, He has taken the condemnation of sin in the flesh, and we have part in death to it.
The first husband then, the law, is done with, and we are married to a risen Christ, and cannot in any sense or form be under the authority of two husbands at a time. It is adultery. It is, we alive in flesh (and if not wholly lawless) under law, or we dead as to it with Christ by faith and married to a risen Christ, and the law in its authority in every sense gone as to us, for it reigns over a man only as long as he lives. Hence it is said, " when we were in the flesh, the motions of sin which were by the law." I cannot say, " when I was," if I am in a place. I must be out of it to speak so, as is yet more clear in Rom. 8:99But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Romans 8:9). The doctrine then is, that we have died, and are thus wholly delivered from the law and its authority, to have another husband.
Then the apostle gives the experience of a renewed soul under the first husband. For of the law only there is question here. Christ and the Spirit are not mentioned, save for deliverance from that state. It is solely and simply a renewed soul under the first husband, the law, learning there what flesh is- that flesh is not subject to it, nor can be, and that we have in this case no power to fulfill it, even if we love it. Verses 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 each show it is the law that is in question as to experience. Deliverance only comes in verse 25, and is developed in chapter 8; the full reasoning on it is in verse 14, in 16, and in 22. We Christians know the spirituality of the law, and so it is felt to be by the renewed man, and his conscience consents to it as good, his heart delights in it; but he never performs it, does not find how to perform it, learns what sin (not sins) is, that there is no good thing in the flesh (sin becomes exceeding sinful), that the flesh is contrary to it all; but he also learns that he has no power to fulfill it. Sin, as a law in his members, makes him captive. He never does the good he would, but practices the evil he hates. Deliverance and power is what is in question. He is the slave of sin, sold under it, captive to it, learns to distinguish what Dr. Stuart will not have divided, but learns that under law the sin he hates is too powerful for his delight in the law; and that being in the flesh, not dead and alive in Christ, he is captive to the law of sin.
Christianity, besides forgiveness and righteousness before God, is just deliverance from this state by death to it in Christ, and power, the power of a new life in Christ, in which the Holy Ghost works, we being set free by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians and Ephesians go farther, but I confine myself to this one point now. This holy liberty is developed in Rom. 8 I on to actual resurrection. Perfectionists have taken this deliverance for perfection; Dr. Stuart and Evangelicals deny the deliverance, and would keep us in Rom. 7 Scriptural Christianity rejects both, because it shows that sin dwells in us on the one hand, and has power over us on the other, but that there is deliverance from that power.
Dr. Stuart takes merely the outside change, which, if consistent, should go on to Wesleyan perfection, denying deliverance from Rom. 7, and the fact of the flesh being totally distinct from the new life, the last Adam as life in us from sinful flesh, and makes all Christians carnal, sold under sin! Christianity shows we cannot say we have no sin, but that we have died in Christ to it, are to reckon ourselves dead, and alive to God in Christ, and so delivered from the power of sin, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit; for the Christian is not in the flesh in which the law could not be fulfilled, for it was not, and cannot, be subject to it. Dr. Stuart, in terms, makes the Christian carnal, sold under sin, and holds he cannot fulfill the law. Christianity delivers him from that state that he may fulfill it. It does a great deal more, but it does that. The Christian is one who lives by the power of spiritual life in Christ, a totally new thing which he has received-life in a risen Christ, God having given His only-begotten Son, that we might live through Him, His death and resurrection having set us free; so that, while this holy freedom is realized in the power of a new life, we have the title and duty to count ourselves dead in Christ's death, our old man (the flesh) crucified with Him.
Let us briefly see how this liberty is depicted in Rom. 8 " There is no condemnation for them who are in Christ Jesus "; not whose sins have been borne by Christ, which clears and justifies us, but who are in a wholly new place in Christ; not in Adam or fleshly standing (for then they could not please God, and there they were when under the law, responsible for themselves for righteousness), but now redeemed wholly out of that place; not merely God met perfectly as a judge, like the blood on the lintel and door-posts, but as Israel out of Egypt, redeemed out of the place they were in (God being a Savior or Deliverer) and in a new one, not in the flesh but in Christ.
This involves the corresponding truth of Christ in us. (Compare John 14:2020At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. (John 14:20).) The blood is the strongest motive for walking, but this is a nature, a life which walks. Redemption and a new state of holy liberty go together. I am not seeking who shall deliver. " The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death," Rom. 8:22For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2). I am not captive, sold under sin. My status and condition is exactly the opposite of chapter 7.
The question here is not if I act up to it-of course I should- but what is the status I am in? I am " not in the flesh," not in my Adam standing before God at all, but in Christ; " not in the flesh, but in the Spirit," redeemed into connection- living connection-according to the power of His resurrection, which is both the seal of redemption and the power of life with a risen Christ; and, besides that, I have received the Holy Ghost, that I may both know it (John 14) and have the power of it, the old man being condemned and dead; " for what the law could not do (chap. 7) in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." A new life is there in the power of the Spirit; but the old has been condemned in the death of Christ, so that there is no condemnation, and it died when condemned. I have death to sin, and no condemnation for it, through Christ's death. I need not, I trust, say here Christ had none. He could do that, being made sin for us, because He knew none. But sin in the flesh is condemned (yet so that there is no condemnation for me) but for faith is dead: my old man crucified with [Him], I am dead with Christ. The realization of this in walk is found in 2 Cor. 4:10-1210Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12So then death worketh in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:10‑12).
The new life is a new creation in me: I belong to the new creation by it; but as to my body, and in fact, I am in the old: only the Spirit reveals the things not seen, that we may live by them. Romans does not speak of the new creation, looking at the Christian as here on earth, but the mind of the flesh, enmity against God, is contrasted with the mind of the Spirit, life, and peace. The living presence and power of the Holy Ghost in us is clearly stated, and in formal opposition to the flesh in its nature. And we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of Christ dwell in us. It is a new standing, characterized by the Spirit being in us; if He be not, one is not in the Christian state.
This brings out the truth of Christ being in us, as before our being in Christ was spoken of; and the ground is stated on which the great truth we have spoken of is based. If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit life because of righteousness. Through the Spirit dwelling in us we hold the body for dead; for if alive, it is the evil flesh, enmity against God; and the life which we have is in the power of the Spirit-its fruit is righteousness. This is pursued to the resurrection of the body, which will be full deliverance.
It is not merely knowing our position, as some have said. We are not in the flesh but in Christ-in the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, the only recognized Christian state. In chapter 7, though converted, the man as to his standing was in the flesh, under the law, captive to the sin he hated. The motions of sin were by the law, he living in the flesh. Now he is not in the flesh but in the Spirit-in the place redemption has brought him into, the Spirit of Christ dwelling in him. The fruits are a consequence. What is stated is the entire change of status and position: a man under the law, the first husband, and in the flesh; a man delivered from the law and married to Christ, in the Spirit, not in the flesh. A man is not captive or a slave, and set free, at the same time. Falling into sin carelessly when free is not captive to the law of sin in my members.
I only add a notice of two false translations which theology has introduced, and for which there is no excuse. " The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other "-the opposition which I insist on, and which Dr. Stuart denies. But then comes the theology: " So that ye cannot do the things that ye would." This is nonsense; for if I cannot do what the Spirit would, nor what the flesh would, I can do nothing. But it is used simply to mean, we cannot do what the Spirit would, showing the practical state of souls. But there is no such statement; it is merely " that ye may not do " (ina me). They seek to hinder the working of the contrary natures.
The other is, " Sin is the transgression of the law." This is really, I must say, a wicked subjection of the word to theology. The word (anomia) is never used for " transgression of the law " anywhere else in the English translation of the holy scriptures; another expression is, parabasis nomou. I call it "wicked," because by it a human system denies what the word of God carefully insists on. Not only so, but it is the word rightly translated elsewhere " without law." Sin is not transgression of the law; to say so, universal as it may be, is a wicked anti-scriptural perversion. Sin is the evil nature which produces lust, the enmity of the heart against God. It is written, " Sin by the commandment became exceeding sinful," which could not be if sin was not there before the commandment. Again, the contrary is expressly stated. " Until the law sin was in the world." There is no transgression without sin. Further, it is said, " They that have sinned without law," the same word as an adverb (anomos), in contrast to sinning under the law. That is, the word of God puts it in direct contradiction to what this false translation does.
These gentlemen believe men are born in sin. I do not blame them for this, surely; but are men born in transgression of the law? It is false theological perversion, and nothing else; and it is time that false theology gave way to the word of God: for this affects the whole nature and character of Christianity. Patience has its just place; but, after all, souls are more precious than false theology.
The grave question is-Is there not a new divine life given in Christ (connected with the delivering power of redemption and the presence of the Holy Ghost), which is wholly contrary in its nature to flesh? Can there be an excess in the difference I make between them-the one being enmity against God, the other Christ as my life? Are they not divided, opposed, and contrary to one another? By one, children of God; by the other, of the devil: one of which cannot sin, because born of God, the other never doing anything else, mingled (it may be) in our life, but opposed in nature. However misstated in detail Dr. Moody Stuart's objection, it denies this. I do not call in question his genuine piety; but the question, whether in the Christian there be two entirely opposed and contrary natures, is too important to be smothered up.