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creatures, or moral agents, capa. their apostasy, is unmeaning and ble of being influenced by ration- futile. If by the certainty of sal. al considerations. Have not the vation be meant its certainty in saints as much moral freedom, the diyine mind, it can have no or rational agency, as others ? conceivable effect on the actionsWhy, then, is it not proper to of believers. If certainty in the address to them the same mo- mind of believers be intended; I tives? Why shall not they, as observe, that believers in their well as others, have the advan- best state are never more certain tage of seeing life and death pla- of their salvation, than they are ced before them? Why shall of the absolute necessity of they not be guarded against persevering faith in order to apostasy by divine threats, as salvation, and of their unavoidawell as excited to unfailing dili- ble ruin, if they forsake the way gence by great and precious of holiness. If we can say to promises? Will any one say, believers; we are persuaded that this is improper, if the doctrine God will give you the victory, and of the saints' perseverance is that nothing shull be able to sepa. true? Does the truth of that doc- rate you from his love ; we may trine take away the moral agen- with equal propriety say; youe cy of Christians? Are they any must continue to the end, or you the less free and voluntary, be- cannot be saved. Be sober, be cause there is a promise, that vigilant. Set a strong guard those who sustain the Christian against the first step to apostasy. character shall be saved ? Do For if you dratu back, God's soul they cease to be rational crea- will have no pleasure in you. Is tures, because, through the grace the propriety of such an address of God, they are believers ? If to Christians doubted? To il. they are still rational, moral lustrate this point by a well agents, they may be influenced known scripture fact, let me ask, by the promises and threats of whether it was consistent for the gospel Indeed it is true Paul to say of some, who were religion, which gives those ready to leave the ship; “expromises and threats their pro- cept these abide in the ship, ye per influence. When it is de- cannot be saved,” when he had clared, that unfailing goodness certain information from an inshall be rewarded with the ever- fallible source, that none of them lasting enjoyment of God, and should be lost in the wreck? that backsliding and impenitence According to the common course shall be punished with his ever- of Providence, suitable means lasting wrath ; believers are ef- are absolutely necessary to acfectually roused to pious caution complish events, which are diand diligence. Shall motives be vinely predicted, and so renderconcealed from persons, as sooned certain by unchangeable peras they are disposed to be proper- fection. Now if proper means ly influenced by them?
must be employed by rational But it is still urged, that, if creatures in order to accomplisha the salvation of believers is cer- events, which are made certain tain, to threaten them with the by the purpose and promise of boss of salvation on supposition of God; then why is it not prqperi to urge that necessity, as a mo- falling from grace, the language tive to the use of means ? The of inspiration would appear very doctrine of perseverance ought incorrect. That such an event never to be viewed in such a is, in some sense, possible, is the light as to render persevering plain, direct implication of many diligence in well doing less Scriptures. Without supposing necessary for Christians, than it that good men have natural pow. would be upon supposition that er to fall froin grace, we cannot the doctrine were not true. Evo consider them in a probationary ery motive to pious activity, state ; for that state must imply which can be derived from the that life and death are set before law and the gospel, retains its them, and that their choice and full force, and ought to be ex corresponding practice will dehibited to believers to influence termine their future condition. their conduct.
If the certainty of the saints' fiHaving made these general nal perseverance implies, that remarks, we proceed to notice they have not, in any sense, power particular parts of J. C.'s com- to fall away ; then, the certainty munication.
of any event makes it utterly imAfter a long and ingenious at- possible, that the contrary event tempt to prove that the passage should take place. According in John xv. 2, is applicable to to this false reasoning, it is utthose, who have a vital union terly impossible, in every sense, with Christ, he states this as the that those sinners, who will fis question, which involves the nally perish, should repent ; for great difficulty ; Whether it is their perdition is a certainty in implied in the passage, that it is the mind of God. Whereas it possible for such to fall away? will be one part of the misery of They, who have carefully at- sioners bereafter, that they tended to the distinction, which might have been saved, but misPresident Edwards and others, improved their opportunity. before and after him, have made Let this be well considered ; between natural and moral pow. viz. that believers being in a er, possibility, necessity, &c. state of probation and having natneed not be embarrassed with ural power to apostatize from the difficulty here supposed. the faith of the gospel, as well Upon the ground of that distinc- as to persevere in it, is not in the tion, it is readily conceded, that least degree incompatible with the final apostasy of good men is the certainty of their final pernaturally possible. Considered severance ; because that certainas rational, voluntary agents, ty rests wholly on a cause, which they are liable to fall away. does not impair their natural Their natural powers render power or moral agency, but them as capable of forsaking the leaves them fully possessed of way of holiness, as of persever. all that belongs to rational, free, ing in it. It is not their want of dependent beings. natural power to continue in sin, Paul's words, 1 Cor. ix. 97, that secures their perseverance are remarkable. TO J. C. it an. in religion. Were there no pears, that, admitting the doc. possibility, in any sense, of their trine of the saints' perseverance,
the reason, which the apostle as- crown of victory was promised signs for his care in subduing to none but conquerors. his carnal inclinations, was not J. C. is doubtless right in the true reason. Here J. C. thinking, that Paul's final salvaappears less discerning than tion was suspended on the condi. usual. We upite with him in tion of his subduing his sinful inrejecting the supposition, that clinations. But how this can Paul vas uncertain whether he be made an objection againt the were the subject of gospel grace. doctrine of the saints' perseverWe agree with him in his infer. ance is not easily conceived, unence, that, if the doctrine of per- less any supposable condition is severance be true, Paul was as an equal objection. J. C. thinks certain of his final salvation as he this passage very unfavourable was of his present holiness. to the conclusion of those, who That he was animated by a lively argue the final perseverance of and assured hope, that he should the saints' from the nature of obtain salvation,appears from ver. holiness, and who hold, that a 26. “I therefore so run, not as single exercise of holiness gives uncertainly; so fight I, not as an infallible title to everlasting one that beateth the air." He life. We question the correcta pressed on with entire satisfac- ness of their theological knowltion and full confidence that, in edge, who make perseverance the way prescribed, he should depend on the nature of inoliness. gain the crown of glory. In Awful facts prove, that the holiver. 27, he manifests nothing ness of angels and men, while contrary to such a firm and con- probationers, is not indefectible. fident hope of final salvation, but If believers persevere in holionly teaches us what means he ness, it is not because tl.ere is used to obtain it. Whatever any thing unchangeable in their hope, or even assurance he holy affection, but because they might have, that he should are interested in the sure coveobtain, he certain he nant of grace. should not obtain, unless he which Christ mentions of the sedirove lawfully. He knew that, curity of his people, was not the if he did not bring under the nature of their holiness, but his body of sin, but gave way to
own and his Father's almighty self-indulgence, and became a grace. John x. 28, 29. “I give slave to carnal desire, he must unto them eternal life ; and they in the issue be rejected of God. shall never perish, neither shall This the nature of things and any one pluck them out of my the gospel constitution both re- hand. My Father, who gave quired. His assured hope of them me, is greater than all, and the final enjoyment of God ex- no one is able to pluck them out cited him to mortify his corrup- of my Father's hand.”. tions, and to purify himself even If a single exercise of holias God was pure. He knew, ness gives an infallible title to that unless he maintained great salvation ; it is because that sinwatchfulness, and perfected ho- gle exercise is, by the constituliness in the fear of God, he tion of grace, connected with must, after all his pleasing ex- perseverance in holiness. pectations, lose his soul. The Vol. II. No. 3.
The spirit of the apostle's ob- in its favour. In him we plainly servations, Heb. vi. 4-6, ap- see, that the saints are interested pears somewhat different from in the unchangeable grace of the gloss of J.C. Upon the sup- God, which secures their perseposition that believers are moral verance; so that, if they fall, they agents, capable of being influen- shall rise again ; if they sin, they ced by proper motives, what dif- shall have the gift of repentance. ficulty encumbers this striking If it be asked, what would have passage? Is it not the method become of David, if he had died of inspiration to set life and in the midst of his crimes ? I andeath before the saints ; to ad- swer, is he had died impenitent, dress their fears as well as their he would have been lost. But it hopes ; to show them, on one may, with the same pertinence, hand, the crown of righteousness be asked, what would have bewhich awaits the faithful, on come of Paul, or John, or any of the other, the certain ruin the saints in heaven, if they had which will overtake them, if died before their conversion ? they turn again to folly ? This Suppositions may assist our feepassage seems not, in spirit, to ble reason, and correct our misbe different from the cautions, takes. But they hinder not the which Jesus frequently gave his purpose and operation of infinite disciples. “ No man, putting grace. The foundation of God his hand io the plough and look- standeth sure, having this seal; ing back, is fit for the kingdom The Lord knoweth them that are of heaven. Ye are the salt of his ; and he will keep them by his the earth. But if the salt have mighty power through faith unto lost its savour, wherewith shall salvation. it be salted ? It is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of }. It is no decisive evidence men.” Neither Jesus, nor his against any religious tenet, that apostles ever considered believ- some passages of Scripture are ers in such a light, as to render · found, which, taken by themselves, the most solemn warnings appear inconsistent with it. The against apostasy, either improp- most established truths of the er or unnecessary. Who shall gospel may be opposed by defind fault, if divine wisdom has tached parts of God's word. On chosen to use such warnings, as a cursory view, many texts conone means of securing their per- vey to our minds a very differseverance? Who shall think of ent meaning from that which sedisproving the certain persever- rious and thorough investigation ance of the saints by those Scrip- discovers. tures, which were inspired to 2. Admitting that the doctrine support it, and which, through now before us has sometimes grace, arc cflectual to that pur- been placed in a false attitude,
believed on wrong principles, David has been often introduc- and defended by unsound reasoued, as a standing proof against ing; this is not a proof, that the the doctrine of perseverance ;
doctrine wants evidence, but that whereas he is a standing proof its friends want wisdom.
3. If any real difficulties at- years. And there are now matend this doctrine, they are by ny circumstances, which threatno means sufficient to overbal- en the dissolution of that enrance the direct scripture evidence pire. in its favour, its manifest agree- John, having predicted the ment with the perfections of God, great events, which were coming and the other truths of the gos- on the world, solemnly calls the pel, and its tendency to animate attention of mankind to the and console the saints.
means of safety at such a perilLuther. ous season. And, if this is the
time, when the sixth vial is running, the warning which he gives
is immediately addressed to us ; A DISSERTATION JOHN'S
and it sounds to me, like a voice, SIXTH VIAL.
sent this day, from the skies. NO. 3.
It is remarkable, that John, Revelation xvi. 12-16. filled with a sense of the magniOn the interpretation and ful- tude of the events in his eye, and filment of prophecy it becomes of the dangers coming on the us to speak with modesty and world, breaks off in the midst of caution ; but there is such a re- his description of events, to prosemblance between John's de- claim the warning of Heaven ; scription of the sixth vial, and the and then resumes his subject. events of the present day, that He introduces the Saviour ihus one can hardly forbear to lay speaking to his people ; “ Bethem side by side, and contem- hold, I come, as a thief: Blessed plate them together.
is he, that watcheth, and keepeth The word of prophecy and the his garments, lest he walk naked, aspect of the times lead us still to and they see his shame.” Again, expect great changes in the having described the judgments world. The fall of the papal under the next vial, he adds, power and the dissolution of the “I heard a voice from heaven, Turkish empire are events, saying, Come out of her, come which cannot be far distant from out of Babylon, my people, that each other. Mahometanism as ye partake not of her sins, and well as Popery, must be removed that ye receive not of her plagues, before pure Christianity can gen- For her sins have reached unto erally prevail. As they arose, heaven, and God hath remember. so they will probably fall
, nearly ed her iniquities." at the same time. If, as inter- It hence appears, that in the preters suppose, the prophecy judgments, to be executed on the of Daniel, in the eleventh chap- papal nations, other nations will ter of his book, respects the have a share, greater or less, acTurkish empire ; then the same cording to their moral and reliperiod is assigned for the dura- gious state. If we partake of the Lion of this, as for the duration sins of Babylon, we shall receive of the Papal power ; viz. a of her plagues. time, times, and half a time, or Great events we have already three and a half years, which are seen, and greater are to be ex1260 prophetic days or literal pected. Blessed is he, that