Imágenes de páginas

do not feel very confident. Your pentance and faith in a dying hour. language is that of uncertainty. David was a good man, a penitent, “ We may have mistaken the a believer. It he had turned from design of the writer.” You may penitence to impenitence ; if he feel assured, that the licence you had become a re-impenitent, or have taken to conjecture L.'s a total apostate from religion, he meaning has exposed you to would have been lost. This is mistake. You charge him with Luther's meaning. “ If David holding, “ that David did totally had died impenitent; or as he apostatize from God and holi- would now more fully and defi. ness ; that he fell, for a time, in- nitely express it; if he had to precisely the same moral again become an impenitent sinstate, in which he was previous- ner, or had totally apostatized ly to his conversion ; that other from God and holiness, he would good men are sometimes entire have been lost." But is it inly holy, and sometimes entire volved in the nature of a suppoly sinful,” &c. All this you in- sition, that the thing supposed fer from the following passage. does or must actually take It is asked, what would have be place ? Because Luther says, if come of David, if he hud died in believers should become apos. the midst of his crimes ? Luther lates, they would perish ; can he replies, If he had died impenitent, be charged with holding, that he would have been lost. Here they are apostates in fact ? you think Luther fairly con- 4, Let us, with care, attend cedes, “ that, in his opinion, Da- to the construction of Heb. vi. 4, vid did totally apostatize from 5, 6. It may be pertinent to reGod and holiness; that he fell mark, that the question among into precisely the same moral Calvinists, who adopt different state, in which he was previous constructions of this text, does ly to his conversion.” Luther not relate to the theory of divine freely owns that his idea was not truth. It is merely this ; wheth, so clearly and definitely express, er the passage contains one or ed, as it ought to have been, and the other of two sentiments, that his language may possibly which are equally admitted on give some occasion for your in- both sides. In other words, the ference. He therefore begs question respects no essential leave lo renark, that when he truth of religion, but merely the uses the expression, “if David construction of a particular text, had died impenitent, he would It is also granted that many have been lost,” he does not plausible arguments have been mean that David, in order to sal- urged in favour of each of the vation, must have died in the act two constructions. Nor do I of repentance. A regenerate pretend to decide, with certainty, person, whose pious exercises which arguments preponderate. are suspended in the last solemn. It is my first wish, that the ar. scene, has as sure a title to hea, guments on both sides may be ven, as one, who dies, triumph- fairly exhibited, and that readers ing in faith and hope. The would form a conclusion, not acmercy of God has not made sal- cording to my judgment, but acvation to depend on the act of re. cording to the truth. While I suggest some of the considera- hypocritical, render his reasontions, which favour one construc- ing nugatory? If unrenewed sin. tion, I should be gratified if ners, partially reformed, fall away, some writer would exhibit, to from what? from their serious, the best advantage, the argu- though ungracious profession ments, which may be used to and deportment;' it is impossisupport the other. *

ble to renew them to repentance. 1. It is urged, that the pas. Thus falling away, they shall cer: sage respects the regenerate, be- tainly perish. But it is equally cause the description is too high true, that if they do not fall away, for any unregenerate persons. but continue as they are, they Tasting the heavenly gift ; being shall perish. Is it not difficult made partakers of the Holy to conceive, that the apostle used Ghost; tasting the good word of so many solemn words, merely God, and the powers of the to warn men not to fall away world to come, and all other from a state in which it was phrases like them, in their com: death to remain ? These, with mon scripture use, refer to the some other considerations, inrenewed. All the phrases, here cline me at present to think, employed, taken together, form that the passage belongs to the a description, which none would regenerate. According to this think of applying to the unre- construction, the apostle informs newed, were it not for the sup- Christians, what would be the position of their falling away, consequence of their falling a. which is introduced at the close. way. It would be impossible to But this is nothing different from renew them again to repentance: the language of solemn caution,

“ This,” you say,

“ is Luther's which Scripture often addresses explanation of the passage. But to the saints.

he still believes that David did 2. Do not these words, “ It is fall away, and that every renew. impossible to renew them again ed person frequently falls away, to repentance," clearly denote, and yet is renewed to repentthat the persons intended had ance." But what has Luther been once renewed to repentance? said that implies this? With If true repentance, or as Dr. Ow- reference to David, indeed, he en allows, “ if a gracious change spoke of believers' falling. But of mind,” is meant in the last surely the difference between place, is it not meant in the for- fulling, and falling away, is evi, mer? If true repentance be not dent. The old English transla, meant, what is the evil pointed tions render this passage, if they out? It is impossible to renew shall fall ; which Dr. Owen well them to a false, ungracious re

observes, “expressed not the pentance.

import of the word.” 3. Does not the supposition,

The best saints on earth fall, that the characters intended by but do not fall away. The Greek the apostle were unrenewed or word here rendered falt away, is hath trespassed ;” or as it may tasted the heavenly gift. And more literally be rendered ; " in

the same, which the Septuagint The Editors are happy to have it in their power to present these argu

use, Ezek. xviii. 24, where ments as stated by a very able and the case of apostates is mention, Accomplished writer. See page 466. ed. In his trespass that he it is said, no further controversy reagain the servants of sin, would specting this passage among those, be widely different from the con- who hold the doctrine of the saints' duct of those, who have never perseverance.

God has judged it proper to his falling away in which he fell guard his people against falling away,” or to lay aside the He

away by the most alarming combrew idiom,“ in his grievous or mination. The sins of wicked total falling away, he shall die."

men in general may be repented The Hebrew word syn in this

of and forgiven. But the sin of place the LXX sometimes ren- falling away, fixing men absoder by αποστασισ. .

lutely in impenitence, would, if What great difficulty then at- committed, be irremissible, and tends the construction of this exclude them forever from the passage? You, indeed, present covenant of grace.

How moone difficulty in the following mentous, then, how interesting to words; « Will it be said, that by Christians, and how conducive to falling away the apostle did not their persevering in holiness, is mean simply falling away, how- the apostle's premonitory adever complete, but an irrecovera

dress!* ble falling away? Then the text

5. Toward the close of your will amount precisely to this ; observations you inform us, that “ Those, who fall irrecoverably, it

“ the Calvinist tells a professor, is impossible to recover." This, as you observe, is not much in

• Since Luther finished his reply the apostle's way of writing. to J. C. and transmitted it to the Ed. According to him, their being itors of the Panoplist, the observa.

tions of a learned friend have excited irrecoverably lost is the conse

his attention to the following critiquence of the particular sin men

cism, tioned. “ If they fall away ;if The hypothetical expression, "If they turn from their righteous- they shall fall away,” is not, it is asness, or totally apostatize from serted, a just translation of the origGod; this is the sin designed ;

inal. The words, xai TagATETOVTAS,

are evidently used to complete the “ it is impossible again to renew

description of the characters before them to repentance.” This is

introduced. The proper rendering the dreadful consequence, which of the passage is obviously this : For the righteousness of God has it is impossible to renew again to repent

ance those, who have been once enlightenthreatened.

ed, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, The falling away here design and have been made partakers of the Holy ed is extremely different from Ghost, and have tasted the good word of the sins, into which believers God and the powers of the world to come, daily fall, or into which they are

and have fallen away. The last clause, surprised by sudden temptation. thetical, than the one, which precedes,

και παραπεσοντας, is no more hypoFrom these, covenanted mercy will recover them. Falling away

και καλον γευσαμενους Θιου χημα,

&c. If this criticism be valid, differs also from the sins of the falling away mentioned actually those, who have never been re- belongs to the persons described, newed to repentance. For good whom, on that very account, no

Calvinist will consider as true believ. men to apostatize from the

Accordingly, there will remain, kingdom of Christ and become

[ocr errors]


if you entirely lose holiness you be most seriously remembered, are lost." As you professedly that the only evidence of our embrace the principles of a Cal- being in the covenant of grace is vinist, I wish, Sir, without ques to be found in the exercises and tioning the propriety of such an fruits of holiness. address, to make a little inquiry 6. I cannot willingly close as to your meaning, when you without observing, that every use it. You tell a professor, “ if attempt to account for the perse. you entirely lose holiness, you are verance of saints on any ground, lost." Do you consider the pro- but the gracious purpose of God, fessor thusaddressed, as a sincere and the promised agency of his godly professor, or a false pro- Spirit, appears antiscriptoral, and fessor? Or do you leave it to be tends to keep them from the applied to either, without deter- rock of their confidence. The mining which ? If you inean hypothesis of a principle or seed a false professor, then the naked of holiness, inherent in belier. sentiment conveyed is this; if ers, is wholly inadequate to the you entirely lose the hutiness, which purpose. Admitting there is a you never had, you are lost. If principle in the renewed hearts you mean a godly professor, then of believers, distinct from actuihe address agrees perfectly with al conformity to God's law, and the construction of Ileb. vi. 4-6, antecedent to good affection, which has just been defended. which is nevertheless the foundaIf you would leave it to apply tion or spring of good affection ; to either, without determining that principle or substratum of which ; then you leave us at lib- good affection cannot be supposerty to adopt either of the two ed to operate independently. of meanings, which have been men- divine influence. So that persetioned, and the spirit of the ad- verance mụsi still be considered, dress is plainly this ; whether as resulting wholly from the unyou are a trill, or a false profes- failing energy of divine grace. 807, if you entirely lose huline 88, After the writings of Reid, Stewyou are losi.

art, and others, it is too late to As to the evidence of persons' depend on any analogical or hybeing in the covenant of grace, pothetical reasoning respecting or not, I would briefly remark, the operations of the mind. In that their finding in themselves; "the present case such reasoning at present, no exercise of piety, appears quite unnecessary. Man is no certain proof against their possesses the faculties of a rationbeing saints. . As far, as sin pre- al, moral agent. He is capable vails in believers, it sensibly ob- of right, and of wrong affection, scures the evidence of their be- of holiness and sin. When, as ing heirs of glory. But their a moral agent, he is under the being conscious at any time, of sanctifying influence of the Spirnothing but sin, is no infallible it, or in the words of Scripture, proof against their saintship. If when God worketh in him both to they always perceived them- will and to do, his moral feelings selves to be the subjects of holi- and acts are lioly. When he is ness, they might always feel as- governed by a depraved heart, sured of salvation. But it is to his moral feelings and acts are

Their perse

unholy. The regenerate are ha- bers. At other times he may bitually, and on the whole, pro- perhaps be discouraged by the gressively under the influence of difficulties he meets, and even God's spirit, and consequently begin to go back. Yet, after all, they are habitually and progres- he may perseveringly pursue his sively holy. But they are not journey, and safely arrive at the always guided and sanctified by intended place. Though a man, God's Spirit. Sometimes they engaged in the pursuit of any are governed by a spirit, which science, is sometimes entirely is in direct opposition to the negligent of his study, and Spirit of God. Thus far we keep spends whole days in a manner, free from useless hypotheses, which directly tends to prevent and stand upon the ground of his success; he may, on the certainty. Scripture teaches, whole, persevere. In like manthat the holy affections of believa ner, Christians persevere in well ers are the special effect of God's doing, although at times they engracious Spirit. But Scripture tirely neglect well doing, and and experience teach also, that fald into great sin. their affections are not unintera verance is, indeed, the conseruptedly holy.

quence, not of any secret princiYou are pleased to assert that, ple or spring of holiness in them, according to Luther's scheme, but of God's special agency. the saints cannot with any pro

Their persevering is altogether priety be said to persevere, un

the effect of divine preservation. less persevering, and not perse. "They are kept by the power vering, are terms of the same of God." The Lord is their import. Again, you signify that Shepherd. He watches their Luther's scheme does not make steps; strengthens them when perseverance in well doing ne- they are weak ; raises them cessary to salvation.

But does when they fall; reclaims them not this all spring from mis- from all their wanderings, and apprehension ? For it is a prom- guides them by his own right inent truth in Luther's scheme, hand. All their springs are in that, although the salvation of him. Though in themselves real believers is certain, their per feeble, erring creatures, liable to severance in well doing is indis- fall, backslide, and perish ; yet, pensably necessary, as the means with such a keeper and guide, of obtaining it. He indeed holds they are safe. Thus, dear Sir, that their perseverance in well have I been taught by the Scripdoing does not imply, that they tures to view the character and are always engaged in welldoing condition of believers in this A man's persevering in a jour. life ; thus to charge all weakney to a certain city does not ness, all imperfection, all sin to necessarily suppose, that he is them; and to ascribe wholly to always in motion towards the God the beginning, the continuplace. He'may sometimes stop ; ance, and the consummation of and sometimes turn aside from their holiness. the right way, and lose himself

LUTHER. in bye paths and dismal swamps, or be greatly hindered by robe Vol. II. No. 10. Mmm

« AnteriorContinuar »