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§ 27. Of Actual Sins.

Original Sin is the ground and source of all actual transgressions. By these we are to understand, however, not only sins which manifest themselves in outward acts, but also those which depend upon purely internal acts of man. HUTT. (Loc. c. Th., 346): “Actual transgression is every act, whether external or internal, which conflicts with the Law of God.” [1] They are numerous and diversified, and are divided, according to QUEN. (II, 65), in the following manner: I. “In respect of an internal defective cause in the agents, into voluntary and involuntary. A voluntary sin is an act by which man transgresses the divine Law, by a deliberate volition, contrary to the dictates of conscience. Involuntary sin is an act inconsistent with the Law, committed without sure knowledge or a deliberate purpose of the will.” Involuntary sin is accordingly divided into sins of ignorance and of infirmity. [2] II. “In respect of the person sinning, 1, into our own sins and the sins of others. Our own sins are those which we ourselves contract, either by doing what has been prohibited, or by omitting to do what has been commanded. Those are called the sins of others, which are indeed perpetrated by others, but in which we share or participate; [3] 2, into venial and mortal. Venial sins are those which, as soon as they are committed, and at the very moment when they are perpetrated, have pardon connected with them by an indissoluble bond. Mortal sins are those which produce spiritual death at the very moment when they are committed.” [4] III. “In respect of the material in which (in qua) they are committed, they are divided into internal and external. Internal are those of the heart; external are those of word and deed.” [5] IV. “In respect of the material about which (circa quam) they are committed; into sins against the first table immediately and directly, and those against the second table, i.e., against God, against a neighbor, and against the person of the transgressor himself.” V. “In respect of the sinful act itself: into sins of commission and of omission. Sins of commission are those which consist in positive acts which come into conflict with a negative precept. Sins of omission consist in the refusal or omission of acts which are prescribed by a positive precept.” (BR. 440.) [6] VI. “In respect of the effect: into sins which cry out for punishment, and those which do not. Of the former kind are vicious acts which provoke God to vengeance, although men are silent or only connive at them. The latter are those which God endures through His longsuffering, and either postpones the punishment, or, if they have been committed by the regenerate, forgives.” [7] VII. “In respect of their adjuncts, sins are divided into, 1, more or less grievous (on account of the greater or less fault or wickedness connected with them); [8] 2, into secret and manifest; [9] 3, into dead and living. Dead sins are those which indeed remain in us, but are not known as sins, or certainly not considered as great as they really are. Living sins are those which are known to be such, and rage even after the knowledge of the Law, Rom. 7:8, 9; 4, into remaining and remitted sins. A remaining sin is that which yet oppresses the sinner by its guilt and weight. A remitted sin is that whose guilt has been removed from the sinner, by the grace of God, for the sake of the merit of Christ; 5, into sins connected with hardness of heart and blindness of mind, and those unconnected with these; [10] 6, into pardonable and unpardonable sins. Of the latter class there is only the sin against the Holy Ghost. [11] This sin consists in a malicious denial of, a hostile attack upon, and a horrid blasphemy of divine truth, evidently known and approved by conscience, and an obstinate and finally persevering rejection of all the means of salvation. HOLL. (556), Matt. 12:31, 32; Mark 3:28, 29; Luke 12:10; Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26, 29.” [1] CAL. (V, 311): “Actual sin is a departure from the Law, by which human thoughts and actions proceeding from the flesh transgress the divine Law given by Moses, and thus it exposes the transgressor to temporal and eternal punishment.” HOLL. (537): “Actual sin is a turning away, by a human act either of commission or omission, from the rule of the divine Law, incurring responsibility for guilt and liability to punishment.” QUEN. (II, 63): “The words ‘act’ and ‘actual’ in this place are used not strictly for external acts only, and sins of commission, but with such latitude that they embrace also internal vicious emotions, both primary and secondary, and also sins of omission.” “In the Holy Scriptures, actual sins are called works of the flesh, Gal. 5:19; unfruitful works of darkness, Eph. 5:11; deeds of the old man, Col. 3:9; dead works, Heb. 6:1; 9:14; unlawful deeds, 2 Peter 2:8.” [2] Here these further remarks are to be added: (a) QUEN. (II, 67): “Sin is here called voluntary, not because it is with the will or in the will, for thus also involuntary violations of duty would be voluntary; but it is understood here as opposed to that which is done through ignorance and inconsiderately (aproairetwß).” (b) HOLL. (542): “Voluntary sin is viewed both in respect of conscience, and in respect of the purpose of the will.” Sin against conscience is fourfold. For it is committed either against a correct conscience, when a man, either by action or omission, does not follow, but despises the dictate of conscience when it agrees with the divine Law; or against an erroneous conscience, when a man, either by action or omission, turns away from the dictate of conscience imbued in error; or against a probable conscience, when any one is delinquent contrary to the dictate of the intellect, which urges, for probable reasons, that something should be done or omitted now at this place; or against a doubtful conscience, when any one does or omits that, concerning which he is in doubt whether it should be done or omitted. Voluntary sin, viewed in respect of the purpose of the will, is twofold. The one kind is that which is committed from mere malice and a will altogether free. The other is that which is committed under the power of a will influenced by force or fear, and by surrounding dangers. Matt. 26:70, 72, 74; Mark 14:68, 70, 71; Luke 22:57, 58, 60; John 18:25, 27.” (c) Involuntary sins are [QUEN., II, 70): “1. Sins of ignorance, which overtake the unwilling regenerate, in consequence of the darkness of the mind, which has not been yet entirely removed by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. 2. Sins of infirmity, which overtake the regenerate without any certain purpose of sinning. Such are sinful emotions of the mind, which have suddenly arisen without their will, and whatever unlawful words or deeds are the result of inadvertence or precipitancy, and contrary to the purpose of the will, Gen. 9:21; 16:5; 18:12; Numbers 20:11, 12; Acts 15:39; Rom. 7:15; Gal. 2:12, 13, 14; 6:1.” [3] HOLL. (552): “Our own sin is a vicious act, produced by a real influence of our own: the sin of another imputed to us, is an unlawful act, to the production of which we concur indeed by no real influence, yet by an efficacious intention, so that it can be justly imputed to us. (He concurs, by efficacious intention, in the sin of another, who commands, consults, consents, connives at, does not oppose, or give information, and thus is the moral cause of the sin of another), Eph. 5:7 and 11; 1 Tim. 5:22; 2 John 11; Rev. 18:4.” [4] HOLL. (547): (a) “Venial sin is every involuntary sin in the regenerate, which neither removes the indwelling grace of the Holy Spirit, nor extinguishes faith, but, in the moment in which it is committed, has pardon connected with it by an indissoluble bond. The distinction of sin into mortal and venial does not arise from the desert of sin, for every sin, of itself, and by its own nature, in a court of law is damnable; but (1) From the different conditions of the subject, or the person sinning. For a venial sin exists in the regenerate, a mortal sin in those who either never were regenerated, or, having been overcome by the predominating power of the flesh, fell from a state of grace. (2) From the estimate which God has made in the Gospel; because God, a reconciled and gracious Father, does not impute to the regenerate sins of infirmity and ignorance for guilt and punishment. (3) From the event. A mortal sin precipitates the sinner into a state of wrath, death, and condemnation, so that, if he should die in this state, and without repentance, he would be certainly condemned; but a venial sin, because it has pardon as an inseparable attendant, can consist with the grace of God and saving faith.” (Id. 551): “The causes of forgiveness or non-imputation are: the compassion of God, the satisfaction and intercession of Christ (1 John 2:1, 2; Rom. 8:1), the efficacious operation of the Holy Spirit, and the daily penitence of the regenerate.” (Id. 547): (b) “A mortal sin is that by which the regenerate, having been overcome by the flesh, and thus not remaining in a regenerate state, transgress the divine Law by a deliberate purpose of the will, contrary to the dictates of conscience, and thereby lose saving faith, reject the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, and cast themselves into a state of wrath, death and condemnation.” [5] HOLL. (552): “Sins of the heart are depraved thoughts and desires which are cherished within the human breast; sins of the lips are wicked words and gestures expressed by the lips; sins of deed are actions which are performed contrary to the divine Law, by an external effort of the members. Matt. 5:21, 22.” [6] HOLL. (552): “Sins of commission are positive acts, by which the negative precepts of God are violated. Sins of omission are the neglect of acts prescribed by the affirmative precepts of God, James 4:16, 17. Note. Although there is oftentimes, in a sin of omission, a certain illicit positive act, either an internal act of the will, as, for example, to will to omit what had been commanded, or an external act, as an operation by which any one is hindered from that which he ought to do; yet such a positive act is not always or necessarily required, but the mere fact that one does not do what is commanded is sin.” [7] HOLL. (553): “Outcrying sins are the following, the Scriptures being witness: 1. The fratricide committed by Cain, Gen. 4:10. 2. The sins of the Sodomites, Gen. 18:20. 3. The oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, Exod. 3:9; of widows and orphans, Exod. 22:22. 4. The denial of wages due to hirelings, James 5:4.” [8] HOLL. (454): “One sin is more grievous than another: 1. In respect to the efficient cause or person sinning. A Christian sins more grievously than a heathen, though he commit the same crime. 2. In respect of the impelling cause. He who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, for the sake of gratifying his lust, sins more grievously than he who steals when impelled by hunger. 3. In respect of the object. He is more guilty who slays his father than he who slays an enemy. 4. In respect of the Law. He sins more grievously who violates the first table of the Law, than he who violates the second. 5. In respect to the effect. That sin is regarded as the more grievous which is attended with the greater injury.” [9] HOLL. (554): “A secret sin is that which is either unknown to the person himself who sins, or which is known only to him who sins, and a few others who wish it suppressed. An open sin is that which has become known to many, and, if it be connected with offence to others, is called a scandal. A scandal is an open sin which furnishes an occasion of sinning to those who know it. It is usually divided into given or active scandal, and received or passive. The former is an open sin which is the occasion of sinning to others; the latter is a word or deed of another, not in itself evil, by which others are offended, or take occasion to sin.” [10] HOLL. (555): “Sin, connected with hardness of heart, is the most atrocious of all, by which the mind of man, having been polluted, remains averse to the Word of God and blind; the will, confirmed in wickedness, resists the Holy Spirit; the appetite indulges in beastly pleasures; and therefore the sinner, being with difficulty or not at all corrigible, brings upon himself temporal and eternal punishments. The cause of this hardness is not God, but partly the devil, who multiplies evils, blind the mind, and fills the heart with wickedness, 2 Cor. 4:4; Acts 5:3; Eph. 2:2; partly man, who rejects the ordinary means of salvation, and is continually selling himself to the desire and practice of sin, Matt. 13:15.” In reference to Exod. 7:3, HOLL (492) remarks: “God does not harden men causally or effectively, by sending hardness into their hearts, but judicially, permissively, and by forsaking them. For the act of hardening is a judicial act, by which, on account of antecedent, voluntary, and inevitable wickedness, God justly permits a man habitually wicked to rush into greater crimes, and withdraws His grace from him, and finally delivers him up to the power of Satan, by whom he is afterwards driven on into greater sins, until He finally cuts him off from the right of the heavenly inheritance.” [11] QUEN. (II, 74): “The word, Spirit, is not used here with respect to essence, as the term is common to the three persons of the God-head, but it is used personally, for the third person of the Godhead; yet respect being had, not so much to the person itself of the Holy Spirit, as if this sin were committed immediately against Him, as to His office and blessings, for example, as far as He strives to illuminate men through the doctrines of the Gospel. . . . Therefore, the Holy Spirit must here be viewed in relation to His office, and the sin is said to be against the Holy Spirit, partly in respect of His ministry, and partly in respect of His testimony. Rom. 8:16.” GRH. (V, 85): “The Sin against the Holy Ghost, therefore, is an intentional denial of evangelical truth, which has been acknowledged and approved by conscience, connected with a bold attack upon it, and voluntary blasphemy of it. For we must observe that this kind of sin was proved against the Pharisees by Christ; for, although they were constrained by the force of the truth uttered by Him, and were convicted in their consciences by its illumination, yet they raged against Him by their wicked impiety, to such a degree that they blushed not to ascribe His doctrines and miracles to Satan. The epistle to the Hebrews thus describes those who sin against the Holy Ghost, that they, having been previously illuminated, have also tasted the heavenly gift and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, have tasted also the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come, yet afterwards fall away, and thus crucify to themselves afresh the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame; also that, by voluntary apostasy, they trample under foot the Son of God, and esteem His blood, by which they were sanctified, an unholy thing, and do despite unto the spirit of grace.” QUEN. (II, 82): “The form of the Sin against the Holy Ghost consists, (1) In a denial, by a full, free, and unimpeded exercise of the will, of evangelical truth, after the latter has been evidently and sufficiently acknowledged and approved. Heb. 6:4; 10:26, 29. (2) In a hostile attack upon the same. Matt. 12:31, 32. (3) In voluntary and atrocious blasphemy. Heb. 10:26, 29.” To this the remark is added, however (Ib., p. 83): “That these essential requisites of this sin must always be taken conjointly, and never separately, and that then that must be called the sin against the Holy Ghost, concerning which all these can be conjointly verified.” The following additional description flows from the nature of the subject: “Not infants, but adults, commit this sin, who are not destitute of the knowledge of the revealed Word of God, but who have been illuminated and convicted by conscience of the certainty of divine truth, and have fallen from the desire and love of it into bitter hatred against it.” (HOLL., 561.) To which BR. adds (444): “Whether the doctrine had been once approved by the assent of divine faith and a public profession, or only so clearly perceived that the mind, having been convicted, had nothing which it could oppose to it. In the former mode, those apostates sin against the Holy Ghost who deny the truth once acknowledged and believed, and utter reproaches against it, as Paul describes them, Heb. 6:4. The Pharisees and Scribes belong to the latter class, who never, by their confession, approved of the doctrines of Christ. In the meantime, they were so convinced of their truth, from the Scriptures and the miracles of Christ, that they could oppose nothing but reproaches.” As adjuncts of this sin, QUEN. (II, 83) adds: “(1) Final impenitence, Heb. 6:4-6; (2) Absolute irremissibility, Matt. 12:31; Mark 3:28, 29; Luke 12:10; (3) Exclusion from the prayers of believers, 1 John 5:16.” HOLL. (564): “It is irremissible, not through any want of divine grace, or inadequacy of the atonement of Christ, or any want of the efficacious influence of the Holy Ghost, but on account of a wicked rejection of all the means of grace, and by reason of final impenitence.” On the other hand, the sin against the Son of man is remissible. Matt. 12:32; Luke 12:10. QUEN. (II, 87): “The sin against the Son of man is either a denial of the truth of the Gospel already acknowledged concerning the Son of God, who became man, resulting from infirmity of the flesh and fear of danger, but not united with a hostile attack and blasphemy, or an attack or blasphemy through ignorance of the truth not acknowledged.”

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