Inbred Sin As Recognized And Taught By The Different Churches
This proof of inbred sin is found in the writings of the standard authors, articles of religion, and creeds of every one of the branches of Christ’s Church in the world.
Mr. Wesley once remarked that there is not a single denomination or Church on earth but recognizes remaining sin in the regenerated heart, by providing in their teachings for its removal some time in the future. Some place this deliverance from sin in the near, others in the remote future, and still others in eternity itself; but the fact that they all teach that purity is to follow pardon, some time or another, is unquestionable proof of the fact that these same Churches recognize a sinful nature or principle left in the regenerated soul.
THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
The Ninth Article of Religion says: “Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; and this infection of nature doth remain, yea in those that are regenerated.”
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
The Confession of Faith (Chap. IX., Sec. 4) has this to say: “When God converts a sinner, and translates him into a state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin; yet by reason of his remaining corruption he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.” In Chapter XIII., Sections 2 and 3, we have this additional statement made: “There abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war.”
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
The teaching of this body is well known, that by the fires of purgatory the soul is cleansed and freed from remaining filthiness. This purification by the fires of another world is a plain statement of something left in the pardoned soul of a sinful or evil nature. The Council of Trent, whose canons are the highest standards of doctrine and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church, at its fifth session, held June 17, 1546, issued this confession: “But this holy synod confesses and is sensible that in the baptized there remains concupiscence, or an incentive (to sin), which, whereas it is left for our exercise, cannot injure those who consent not, but resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ ”
THE LUTHERAN CHURCH.
We take the following from the Augsberg Confession: “Since the fall of Adam all men are born with a depraved nature, with sinful propensities. That the Son of God truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried that he might reconcile the Father to us, and be a sacrifice not only for original sin, but also for all the actual sins of men. That he also sanctifies those who believe in him by sending into their hearts the Holy Spirit.” Remaining sin after justification, and its final removal, is here plainly taught.
THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.
The following is taken from their Confession of faith: “We believe that those who are thus regenerated and justified grow in sanctified character through fellowship with Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and obedience to the truth; that a holy life is the fruit and evidence of saving faith.” In the words which we italicize we notice that a holy life is said to be the fruit of saving faith. In a word, the tree has been planted in regeneration, and afterwards comes holiness, a distinct thing.
We quote from a volume which, summing up their teachings, says: “Shakers hold that the true Christian Church is a congregation of souls baptized with that degree of Christ’s Spirit which harvests them from the selfish, sinful elements of the world, absolves them from the bondage of sin and the power of sinful temptations.” Let the reader remember that regeneration is a birth, but that the reference here is to a spiritual baptism which delivers from remaining sin.
THE SALVATION ARMY.
We take from their published doctrine: “We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified; we believe that after conversion there remains in the heart of the believer inclination to evil or roots of bitterness, which, unless overpowered by divine grace, produce actual sin; but that these evil tendencies can be entirely taken away by the Spirit of God.”
THE CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
We quote from their Confession of Faith (Sec. 57): “Growth in grace is secured by personal consecration to the service of God, regular attention to the means of grace, the reading of the Holy Scriptures, prayer, the ministrations of the sanctuary, and all known Christian duties. By such means the believer’s faith is much increased, his tendency to sin weakened, the lusts of the flesh mortified, and he more and more strengthened in all saving grace and in the practice of holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”
THE REFORMED CHURCH OF GERMANY.
In the Formula of Concord (Art. IV., Sec. 8) we read, “But we acknowledge that this liberty of spirit in the elect children of God is not perfect, but is as yet weighed down with manifold infirmity, as St. Paul laments concerning himself about this matter (Rom. vii. 14-25; Gal. v. 17); and again (Art. VI., Sec. 8), “And they that believe according to the spirit of their mind have perpetually a struggle with their flesh–that is, with corrupt nature, which adheres in us even till death; and on account of the old Adam which remains fixed in the intellect and will of man and in all his powers, there is need that the law of God should always shine before man, that he may not frame anything in matters of religion under an impulse of self-devised devotion, and may not choose out ways of honoring God not instituted by the Word of God.”
THE SWISS CHURCH.
In the Helvetic Confession is the following statement: “Secondly, in the regenerate there remaining infirmity; for sin dwells in us, and the flesh struggles against the spirit in renewed persons; even unto the end the regenerate are not able at all readily to accomplish what they undertake. This is confirmed by the apostle in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter vii., and Galatians v.”
THE BAPTIST CHURCH.
This religious denomination is remarkably clear in its teaching in this regard. We quote from “Christian Doctrines,” a compendium of their theology, by Dr. Pendleton, the most orthodox of Baptists. In chapter xxi., on sanctification, and page 300, we find these words: “Regeneration breaks the power of sin and destroys the love of sin, so that whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin in the sense of being the slave thereof; but it does not free the soul from the presence and pollution of sin. Alas! the regenerate know full well that sin is in their hearts. This accounts for the Christian warfare. This conflict implies the remains of sin in the believer.”
The Methodist Church is so full in its statements of inbred sin left in the regenerated man that we devote the next chapter to showing up some of her teachings in this regard.
A longer enumeration of the Churches could be easily secured, but what is said here is enough to awaken concern and inquiry in the most thoughtless, when every religious denomination is seen dividing or separating pardon from purity, and locating or setting the time for the obtainment of the last, somewhere in the future, in growth, at death, or in purgatory.
The founder of the Methodist Church, Mr. Wesley, says that no one ever taught differently until the appearance of Count Zinzendorf.
It does seem very wonderful to the writer that at this late hour of the world’s religious history we should find preachers turning from the teaching of all the Churches, and adopting the doctrines of one man, who, in his bold affirmations, sets himself up not only against all Christendom, but, as we shall see, against the Scriptures as well.
Zinzendorf, as the reader knows, claimed that regeneration is purity, thus denying remaining sin in the heart after conversion, and so removing the necessity for a second work of grace.
The author’s opinion of Zinzendorf is that he underestimated a justified religious childhood; and when afterwards, upon a complete consecration, he received the blessing of sanctification, he mistook it for regeneration, and so called it, and wrote accordingly. This mistake the writer has known a number of people to make; and the reader can well see how, in the absence of clear teaching on the subject, such mistakes could be made.
Let this be as it may, it certainly should occur to all that the statement of a solitary individual like Zinzendorf, given for the first time in the eighteenth century, should certainly deserve less credence than the deliberate utterance of all the Churches, in all the ages, in all the countries, that sin in some kind of form is left in the regenerated heart.