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rication of the holy laws; tñs čvrolñs napáßaois, so Damascen* calls sin ; which we render well by transgression:' and even those words which in distinction signify a small offence, yet they also signify the same with the greater words, to shew that they all have the same formality, and do the same displeasure, or at least that by the difference of the words, no difference of their natures can be regularly observed. Sims against God only are by Phavorinus called αμαρτίαι. Εξήμαρτε εις θεόν, εξύβρισεν εις ανθρώπους ; and the same word is also used for sin against our neighbours; įàv åpagtnon eis oè adelpòs, 'if thy brother sin against thee,' that is, 'do thee injury ;' and this is properly ádía, 'injustice;' but Demosthenes" distinguishes injustice from sin, ádekia from auapría, by voluntary and involuntary; αδικεί τις εκών" εξήμαρτε τις άκων. . “ He that does wrong willingly, is unjust; he that does it unwillingly, is a sinner.”
22. The same indistinction is observable in the other words of Scripture; mapántwua is by St. Jerome used for the beginnings of sin; “ Cum cogitatio tacita subrepit, et ex aliquâ parte conniventibus nobis, nec dum tamen nos impulit ad ruinam;" when a sudden thought invades us without our advertency and observation, and hath not brought forth death as yet; and yet that death is appendant to whatsoever it be that can be signified by mapántwla we may observe, because the sin of Adam * that called death upon all the world, is called mapatwa ; and of the Ephesian Gentiles St. Paul said they had been dead παραπτώμασι και αμαρτίαις, “in trespasses and sins;" and therefore it cannot hence be inferred that such little obliquities, or beginnings of greater sins, are only mapà thu vóuov, 'besides the law,' not against it, for it is (at least the word hinders not but it may be) of the same kind of malignity as was the sin of Adam : and therefore St. Austin' renders the word mapántwua' delictum' or 'offence,' and so do our Bibles. And the same also is the case of auaptia, which is attributed even to concupiscence or the beginnings of mischief, by St. Paul a and by St. Jeromeb: but the same is used for the consummation of concupiscence in the matter of uncleanness by St. James~; 'lust when it hath con
t lagáfæcis. lib. 4. de orthod. fide, cap. 23. u Orat. Tepi otepávou.
? Eph. ij. 1. 2 Lib. 3. quæst. super Levit. 4. 20.
2. Ephes. c Jam. i. 15. Vid. Com. DD. io Titum verb, ávéyxantos.
x Rom. v. 18.
b In cop .
ceived,' ríktel åpaprlav; 'peccatum' is the Latin word, which when it is used in a distinct and pressed sense, it is taken for the lesser sins, and is distinguished from crimen.'—Paulus Orosius d uses it to signify only the concupiscence or sinful thoughts of the heart; and when it breaks forth to action, he calls it a crime; “peccatum cogitatio concipit, crimen vero non nisi actus ostendit:” and it was so used by the ancient Latins. “Peccatus' it was called by them quasi pellicatus,' that enticing which is proper to uncleanness. So Cicero in A. Gelliuse : “ Nemo ita manifesto peccatu tenebatur, ut cum impudens fuisset in facto, tum impudentior videretur, si negaret.” Thus the indistinction of words mingles all their significations in the same common notion and formality. They were not sins at all, if they were not against a law; and if they be, they cannot be of their own nature venial, but must be liable to that punishment which was threatened in the law whereof that action is a transgression.
23. II. The law of God never threatens, the justice of God never inflicts punishment, but upon transgressors of his laws; the smallest offences are not only threatened, but may be punished with death; therefore they are transgressions of the divine law. So St. Basil argues ; "Nullum peccatum contemnendum ut parvum, quando D. Paulus de omni peccato generatim pronunciaverat stimulum mortis esse peccatum;" 'the sting of death is sin ;' that is, death is the evil consequent of sin, and comes in the tail of it; of every sin, and therefore no sin must be despised as if it were little. Now if every little sin hath this sting also (as it is on all hands agreed that it hath), it follows that every little transgression is perfectly and entirely against a commandment. And indeed it is not sense to say any thing can in any sense be a sin, and that it should not in the same sense be against a commandment. For although the particular instance be not named in the law, yet every instance of that matter must be meant. It was an extreme folly in Bellarminef to affirm, " peccatum veniale ex parvitate materiæ est quidem perfecte voluntarium, sed non perfectè contra legem. Lex eniin non prohibet furtum unius oboli in specie, sed prohibet furtum in genere :" " that a sin that is venial by the smallness of the
& Apol. de liber, arbit.
e Lib. 13. c. 19.
matter, is not perfectly against the law, because the law forbids theft indeed in the general, but does not in particular forbid the stealing of a halfpenny :” for upon the same reason it is not perfectly against the law to steal three pounds nineteen shillings and three-pence, because the law in general only forbids theft, but does not in particular forbid the stealing of that sum. But what is besides the law, and not against it, cannot be a sin; and therefore to fancy any sin to be only besides the law, is a contradiction; so, to walk, to ride, to eat flesh or herbs, to wear a long or a short garment, are said to be besides the law ; but therefore, they are permitted and indifferent. Indifferent, I say, in respect of that law, which relates to that particular matter, and indifferent in all senses; unless there be some collateral law which may prohibit it indirectly. So for a judge to be a coachman, for a priest to be a fiddler or innkeeper, are not directly unlawful, but indirectly they are, as being against decency and public honesty or reputation, or being inconvénient in order to that end whither their calling is designed. . To this sense are those words of St. Paul; “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient;" that is, some things which directly are lawful, by an indirect obligation may become unfit to be done; but otherwise, “Licitum est quod nullâ lege pro! ibetur,” saith the law. If no law forbids it, then it is lawful: and to abstain from what is lawful though it may have a worthiness in it more than ordinary, yet to use our liberty is at no hand a sin. The issue then is this; either we are forbidden to do a venial sin, or we are not. If we are not forbidden, then it is as lawful to do a venial sin as to marry, or eat flesh: if we are forbidden, then every such action is directly against God's law, and consequently finable at the will of the supreme Judge, and if he please, punishable with a supreme anger. And to this purpose
there is an excellent observation in St. Austin S: “ Peccatum et delictum si nihil differrent inter se, et si unius rei duo nomina essent, non curaret Scriptura tam diligenter unum esse utriusque sacrificium:" "There are several names in Scripture to signify our wanderings, and to represent the several degrees of sin; but carefully it is provided for, that they should be expiated with the same sacrifice;" which
& Lib. 3. quæst, super Levit. q. 20.
proves that certainly they are prevarications of the same law, offences of the same God, provocations of the same anger, and heirs of the same death: and even for small offences a sacrifice was appointed, lest men should neglect what they think God regarded not.
24. III. Every sin, even the smallest, is against charity, which is the end of the commandment. For every sin or evil of transgression is far worse than all the evils of punishment with which mankind is afflicted in this world; and it is a less evil that all mankind should be destroyed, than that God should be displeased in the least instance that is imaginable. Now if we esteem the loss of our life or our estate, the wounding our head, or the extinction of an eye, to be great evils to us, and him that does any thing of this to us, to be our enemy, or to be injurious, we are to remember that God hates every sin worse, than we can hate pain or beggary. And if á nice and a tender conscience, the spirit of every excellent person, does extremely hate all that can provoke God to anger or to jealousy; it must be certain that God hates every such thing with a hatred infinitely greater, so great, that no understanding can perceive the vastness of it and immensity. For by how much every one is better, by so much the more he hates every sin ; and the soul of a righteous man is vexed and afflicted with the inroads of his unavoidable calamities, the arinies of Egypt, the lice and flies, his insinuating, creeping infirmities. Now if it be holiness in him to hate these little sins, it is an imitation of God; for what is in us by derivation, is in God essentially; therefore that which angers a good man, and ought so to do, displeases God, and consequently is against charity or the love of God. For it is but a vain dream to imagine, that because just men, such who are in the state of grace, and of the love of God, do commit smaller offences, therefore they are not against the love of God; for every degree of cold does abate something of the heat in any hot body; but yet because it cannot destroy it: all, cold and heat may be consistent in the same subject; but no man can therefore say, they are not contraries, and would not destroy each other if they were not hindered by something else; and so would the smallest offences also destroy the life of grace, if they were not destroyed themselves. But of this afterward. For the present, let it be considered,
how it can possibly consist with our love to God, with that duty that commands us to love him with all our heart, with all our strength, with all our might, and with all our soul; how (I say) it can be consistent with a love so extended, so intended, to entertain any thing that he hates so essentially. To these particulars I add this one consideration; that since there is in the world a fierce opinion, that some sins are so slight and little, that they do not destroy our relation to God, and cannot break the sacred tie of friendship, he who upon the inference and presumption of that opinion shall choose to commit such small sins, which he thinks to be the all that is permitted him, is not excused by that supposition : for if it be said, that he is therefore supposed to love God, because he only does those little sins which he thinks are not against the love of God, and if he did not think so, he wou!d not do them; this excuses him not, but aggravates the sin, for it is turning the grace of God into wantonness. For since that such little things are the easier pardoned, is wholly owing to God's grace and his singular goodness, he that abuses this goodness to licentiousness, makes his sin to abound, because God's grace abounds; because God is good, he takes leave to do evil, that is, to be most contrary to God. For it is certain that every man in this case hath affections for sin as formerly; indeed he entertains it not in the ruder instances because he dares not, but he does all that he dares do; for when he is taught that some certain sins are not damnable, there he will not abstain: which is a demonstration, that though he does something for fear, yet he does nothing for love.
26. IV. From this it follows, that every sin, though in the smallest instance, is a turning from God and a conversion to the creature. Suidas defines ápapriav 'sin' to be TV του αγαθού αποτυχίαν, “adeclension from good;” and αμαρτάνειν is του σκόπου αποτυγχάνειν, that is, άσκοπα τοξεύειν, “to shoot besides the mark,' to conduct our actions by an indirect line to a wrong object, from God to the creature. Peccare est tanquam lineas transilire;' so Cicero h: 'a sinner goes out of those limits' and marks which are appointed him by God. Than this, no greater evil can be spoken of any thing; and of this, all sin partakes more or less. Some few sins are direct aversions from God; so atheism, blasphemy, apostasy, reso
h Parad, 3. 1. 3. Wetzel.