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and scrupulous Fear of Sin, where there was no Reason to fear: A Weakness we are pretty well got over.
These are the most usual, if not all the Scripture Senses of Infirmity ; and I think it appears, that none of them have Infirmity enough in them to be an Excuse for Sin. All Sin is Weakness; the more perfect any Creature is, and the nearer it approaches to Him who is all Perfection, the more remote is it from a Possibility of sinning. It was our Weakness made it necessary for the Son of God to come to our Assistance, to rescue us from the Law of Sin and Death; which he did by condemning Sin in the Flesh, and by the powerful Effusion of his Holy Spirit. But to what Purpose is the Holy Spirit promised or given, but to overcome our Infirmities, that the Strength of God may be made perfeet in Weakness?
But yet, after all these Helps, we are not, nor cannot be, perfect Creatures. St. James says, In many Things we offend all. How shall these Errors be excused, which the best of Men are liable to? Is there a Foundation for an Excuse, or must all alike perish in the Error of their Ways ? This will receive an Answer, if we consider,
Secondly, What sort of Sins they are which will admit of an Excuse, because of the Infirmity from which they proceed.
And here you are not to expect a Catalogue of Sins, for I know no kind of Sin that can be otherwise excused than by Repentance and Amendment; and at best there is an Impropriety of Speech in Sins of Infirmity. The necessary Effects of our Infirmities are not finful : Where they are not necessary, they may be sinful; but why they are called Sins of Infirmity in Distinction to other Sins is hard to say. There is an Imperfection in the Obedience of the best of Men. The five Wise Virgins slumbered, and their Lamps grew dim, and wanted trimming, when the Bridegroom came : But yet they soon made ready, and were received to the Marriage Feast : And, without question, God will favourably look upon the Failings of good Men, and accept their sincere, though not perfect Obedience. This, I hope, we have Reason to allow : But yet the common Notion of Sins of Infirmity gains nothing by it; for let any one fay what is the Sin of Infirmity that all good Men are guilty of. There is an Imperfection which flows from the Weakness of our present Condition, and thews
itself, not regularly, but in various Instances. Many good Christians have complained of a Coldness sometimes in their Devotion, and of wandering and roving Thoughts; which is, without doubt, one of those Weaknesses that shall be forgiven to pious and sincere Christians. Will
then make this one of your Sins of Infirmity, an Evil that carries its Excuse always with it ? Surely no: For, though it shall be forgiven some, it will be an Aggravation of the Guilt of others, who have not the fame sincere Obedience and good Disposition to plead in their Excuse. Some are troubled with impious and blafphemous Thoughts, unworthy Conceptions of God and Christ, and suffer a prodigious Torment and Anxiety of Mind because of them, who are Objects of Pity and Compassion both to God and Man: And when this is the Case of well-disposed Persons, who are no ways consenting to them, there seems to be as little Guilt in them, as in a Fever or an Ague.
Upon the whole then : Since there is so little Reason to depend upon this Excuse, and fince all Men in some Degree stand in need of it, I will shew you the Way, and I know but one Way of entitling ourselves to this
Plea, which is by endeavouring sincerely and universally to obey the Will of God; then shall we be in the Number of those, whose Infirmities for the sake of Christ shall be forgiven.
ISAIAH liii. 3. He is despised and rejected of Men, a Man of
Sorrows, and acquainted with Grief.
$$9&etR* HEN our Lord was led away
to be crucified, and the WoW
men bewailed and lamented his *** Misery, he turned about to X*$*
them, and said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not
for me, but weep for yourfelves. Words, which we may very properly apply to ourselves for the Direction of our Devotion on this Day of his Crucifixion : A Day it is of Sorrow and Mourning, but not for his fake, who, crowned with Glory and Honour, is set down on the right Hand of the Majesty on high; but for our own, whose Sins brought down this Load of Woe and of