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heavenly gift, and were made par. the existence of a holy principle takers of the Holy Ghost, and have in his heart? tasted the good word of God, Thus I have endeavoured, and the flowers of the world to as clearly and concisely as come ; if they shall fall away, 10 possible, to state the difficulties, renew them again to repentance; of greatest weight, in my mind, seeing they crucify to themselves respecting the doctrine of final the Son of God afresh, and put perseverance. To discover the him to an open shame. Respect truth is, I hope, my only object. ing this passage, I would pro- Should you deem it consistent pose these questions : Do the with the purposes of your un. terms here used, necessarily im. dertaking, I request you to give ply, that those, to whom they these queries a place in the were applied, were regenerate Panoplist ; in order that some persons? If so, do they contem- writer may have an opportunity plate the event spoken of, (the to attend to the difficulties propodefection of such) as possible ; or sed ; and to gratify me and the only affirm what would be their sit public with such remarks as may uation, should such an event take appear to him pertinent and proplace? If the latter, where is the per.
J. C. force and propriety of the apostle's admonition? This must be the REMARKS ON THE FOREGOING amount of his observations ; "I STATEMENT OF DIFFICULTIES. exhort you to diligence and assi It cannot be urged as any ob. duity in studying the principles jection against the doctrine of of our holy religion, and to pro- the saints' perseverance, that gress in the knowledge of its hypocritical pretenders to relisublime, and glorious truths; gion have openly forsaken the and I sanction my exhortation cause of truth. Nor can it be with this alarming consideration, considered any proof of their real yiz. That if you fail to do this, saintship, that, while they mainand thus for want of being rooted tained the appearance of religion, and grounded in the truth, suffer God in his word and providence yourselves to be shaken from treated them, as saints. Both your stedfastness, and moved in his word and providence God from your faith in the gospel, it conducts towards men according will be impossible to recover you; to their visible character. He though at the same time, you does not expose them, except by very well know, that it is ab80- giving them opportunity to ex. lutely certain this never will hap- pose themselves. Thus Judas, pen.n."
Simon Magus, and others have 7. With regard to the example been treated. The apostasy of of David I request an answer to such persons means no more, the two: following questions : than a visible apostasy, or a fall, Was David in a state of favour ing away from their standing in and acceptance with God previ- the visible church; which, in ously to his sin, in the matter of fact, implies no real alteration in Uriah? If so, were his flagrant, them, but only a manifestation and abominable crimes, of adul- of their true character. Such is Fery and murder, compatible with the sentiment containcd in the . apostle's words ; 1 John ii. 19. cy of God, which secure the final They went out from us, but they perseverance of all his chosen peowere not of us ; for if they had ple, are not in the least degree been of us, they would no doubt inconsistent with their moral agenhave continued with us ; but they cy. Innumerable examples went out, that they might be made might be produced, in which manifest that they were not all of God's purpose, promise, and us. But while there are some, agency conspired to render an that is, false professors, who event certain ; and yet those, actually draw back to perdition ; who were concerned in its acthere are others, that is, real complishment, were as free and saints, who do not. Thus the voluntary, as they could have apostle, speaking of real believ- been upon any supposition what. ers, says; we are not of them, ever: I might mention the who draw back to perdition, but death of Jesus, which was deof them who believe to the saving terinined before the foundation of the soul. Here the distinc. of the world, and was rendered tion is evidently marked between certain to the church by the those who are saints in reality, promise of God. Notwithstandand those who are saints merelying this, Jesus was perfectly un. in appearance. Now whatever constrained in laying down his passages of scripture are design- life, and the murderous Jews ed to characterize false profes. were no less free and voluntary sors, have nothing to do with the in taking it from him. · The subject before us.
same might be asserted of the : It is granted, that most of the return of the Jews from the passages, which J. C. urges Babylonian captivity, of the conagainst the doctrine of persever version of the Gentiles, and of a ance, and other similar passages, thousand other events. are descriptive of real Christians. Now if the purpose, the prom
The construction, which has of- ise, and the agency of God, renten been put upon Heb. vi. 4,5, ap. dering the salvation of all believ. pears not well supported. There ers certain, leave them in the is-scarcely in the Bible a higher unimpaired possession of their description of the regenerate. moral freedom ; it is evidently
In compliance with the re- suitable to address them, as free, quest of J. C. it is my design to moral agents. But in what Offer what assistance I am able, manner is it suitable to address to the candid and inquisitive, in moral agents, who are probation. discerning the consistence be- ers for eternity, in order to pertween the passages, which he suade them to virtuous conduct ? quotes, and the gospel doctrine Infinite wisdom teaches, that it of the saints' perseverance. It is suitable to address them with must be remembered, that long motives ; to set life and death: and minute investigation is not before them ; to hold up the compatible with the brevity mercies and the terrors of the which is necessary in this reply. Lord. Thus has God dealt with
I desire it may be considered, mankind in all ages; and what in the first place, that the gra- he has done is confessedly just; stviisurficer, fironies, and agen. because mankind are intelligent
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 divine mind, it can have no or rational agency, as others ? conceivable effect on the actions Why, 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 plan 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 sepatrue? Does the truth of that doc- rate you from his love ; we may trine take away the moral agen- with equal propriety say ; yoil 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 draw 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 ile 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; “es. promises 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 las:ing wrath ; believers are ef, are absolutely necessary to acfectually roused to pious caution complish events, which are di. and diligence. Shall motives be vinely predicted, and so renderconcealed from persons, as soon ed certain by unchangeablé 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 accomplish the salvation of believers is cer- events, which are made certain tain, to threaten them with the by the purpose and promise of bss of salvation on supposition of God; then why is it not proper
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 powwould be upon supposition that er to fall froin grace, we cannot the doctrine were not true. Eva consider them in a probationary ery motive o pious activity, state ; for that state must imply which can be derived from the that life and death are get 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' fie Having made these general nal perseverance implies, that remarks, we proceed to notice they have not, in any sense, power particular parts of J. Ci'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 fiquestion, 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- sinners hereafter, 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 aral 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 per. naturally 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 op 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: 27, that secures their perseverance are remarkable. To J. C. it apin religion. Were there no pears, that, admitting the docpossibility, 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 salva. appears less discerning than tion was suspended on the condi. usual. We unite with him in tion of his subduing his sinful inrejecting the supposition, that clinations. But how this can Paul was 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 correct. 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 holiness. gain the crown of glory. In Awful facts prove, that the holi. ver. 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 there 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 was certain he nant of grace. The reason, should not obtain, unless he which Christ mentions of the sestrove 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 cf 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