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Chapter 13 - Of Actual Sin

The Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)

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Election is God’s decree “whereby on his own free will, he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Reprobation is “that part of predestination, whereby God, according to the most free and just purpose of his will, hath determined to reject certain men unto eternal destruction, and misery, and that to the praise of his justice.”

Chapter 13 – Of Actual Sin

After original sin in Adam’s posterity actual transgression taketh place. It is either inward or outward. Inward, is of the mind, will, and affections.

The actual sin of the mind is the evil thought or intent thereof, contrary to God’s Law. Examples of evil thoughts, God (the only knower of the heart) hath in divers places set down in His word. I. That there is no God, Psalm 10:4, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” Psalm 14:1, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” II. That there is neither providence nor presence of God in this world. Psalm 10:11, “He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.” Verse 13, “Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.” III. It imagineth safeguard to itself from all perils. Psalm 10:6, “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.” Rev. 18:7, “How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” IV. It esteemeth itself more excellent then other. Rev. 18:7, “I sit as a Queen.” Luke 18:11, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” V. That the Gospel of God’s kingdom is mere foolishness. 1 Cor. 2:14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” VI. To think uncharitably and maliciously of such as serve God sincerely. Matt. 12:24, “But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” Psalm 74:8, “They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land.” VII. To think the day of death far off Isa. 28:15, “Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.” VIII. That their pains of hell may be eschewed: in the place before mentioned they say, “With hell we have made agreement.” IX. That God will defer his both particular and last general coming to judgment. Luke 12:19, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” And verse 45, “But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken.”

Many carnal men pretend their good meaning but when God openeth their eyes, they shall see their rebellious thoughts rising in their minds, as sparks out of a chimney.

The actual sin of both will and affection, is every wicked motion, inclination and desire, Gal. 5:17, “For 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.”

An actual outward sin, is that, to the committing whereof, the members of the body do, together with the faculties of the soul, concur. Such sins as these are infinite. Psalm 40:12, “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.”

Actual sin, is of omission or commission. Again, both these are in the words or deeds.

In the sin of commission, observe these two points: the degrees in committing sin, and the difference of sins committed.

The degrees, are in number four. James 1:14-15, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

The first degree, is temptation, whereby man is allured to sin. This doth Satan by offering to the mind that which is evil. Job 13:2, “What ye know, the same do I know also: I am not inferior unto you.” Acts 5:3, “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” 1 Ch. 21:1, “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” This is also effected upon occasion of some external object, which the senses perceive. Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?”

Temptation hath two parts: abstraction and inescation.

Abstraction, is the first cogitation of committing sin, whereby the mind is withdrawn from God’s service, to the which it should be always ready pressed. Luke 10:27, “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”

Inescation, is that whereby an evil thought conceived, and for a time retained in the mind by delighting the will and affections doth as it were, lay a bait for them to draw them to consent.

The second degree, is conception, which is nothing else but a consent and resolution to commit sin, Psalm 7:14, “Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.”

The third degree is the birth of sin, namely the committing of sin, by the assistance both of the faculties of the soul, and the powers of the body.

The fourth degree is perfection, when sin being custom perfect, and as it were, ripe, the sinner reapeth death, that is, damnation.

This appeareth in the example of Pharaoh: wherefore the custom in any sin is fearful.

Sin actually committed hath five differences. First, to consent with an offender, and not actually to commit sin. Eph. 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” This is done three manner of ways.

I. When a man in judgment somewhat alloweth the sin of another. Num. 20:10, “And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” Verse 12. “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”

II. When the heart approveth in affection and consent. Hither may we refer both the Ministers and the Magistrates concealing and winking at offences. 1 Sam. 2:23, “And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.” Now that Eli will agreeth with his son’s sins, it is manifest, verse 29, “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?”

III. In deed by counsel, presence, enticement, Rom. 1:31, “Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” Acts 22:20, “And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.”

The second difference, is to sin ignorantly, as when a man doth not expressly and distinctly know whether that which he doth, be a sin or not, or if he know it, do not acknowledge and mark it. 1 Tim. 1:13, “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” Num 35:22-24, “But if he thrust him suddenly without enmity, or have cast upon him any thing without laying of wait, Or with any stone, wherewith a man may die, seeing him not, and cast it upon him, that he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought his harm: Then the congregation shall judge between the slayer and the revenger of blood according to these judgments.” Psalm 19:13, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.”

The third difference is to sin upon knowledge, but yet of infirmity, as when a man fearing some immanent danger, or amazed at the horror of death, doth against his knowledge deny that truth, which otherwise he would acknowledge and embrace. Such was Peter’s fall, arising from the over much rashness of the mind, mingled with some fear.

Thus men offend, when the flesh, and inordinate desire so overrule the will and every good endeavor, that they provoke man to that, which he from his hearth desireth. Rom. 2:19, “And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness.”

The fourth difference is presumptuous sinning upon knowledge, Psalm 19:13, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” Hitherto belongeth I. every sin committeth with a high hand, that is, in some contempt of God. Num. 15:30, “But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.” II. Presumption of God’s mercy in doing evil. Eccl. 8:11, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Rom. 2:4, “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?”

The fifth difference, is to sin upon knowledge and set malice against God, and to this is the sin against the holy Ghost referred.

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