« PreviousContinue »
hath trespassed;" or as it may tasted the heavenly gift. And more literally be rendered ; “ in 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 bør in this of and forgiven. But the sin of place the LXX sometimes ren- falling away, fixing men absoder by a OSTAVIT.
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 orig. God; this is the sin designed ;
inal. The words, tal maganicorTAS,
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 repentthreatened.
ance those, who have been once enlighten
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.
xat TagatsCOYTAS, is no more hypo.
thetical, than the one, which precedes, From these, covenanted mercy
και καλον γευσαμενους Θεου ρημα, will recover them. Falling away
&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 men to apostatize from
Calvinist will consider as true believthe
ers. Accordingly, there will remain, kingdom of Christ and become
it is said, no further controversy re. again 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.
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 perseyou 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 antiscriptural, 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 mean hypothesis of a principle or seed a false professor, then the naked of holiness, inherent in beliersentiment conveyed is this; if ers, is wholly inadequate to the you entirely lose the holiness, 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 actuthe address agrees perfectly with al conformity to God's law, and the construction of Heb. 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 suppos. erty 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 must still be considered, dress is plainly this ; whether as resulting wholly from the ure you are a true, or a false profes- failing energy of divine grace. sor, if you entirely lose holiness, After the writings of Reid, Stewyou are lost.
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 rails in believers, it sensibly ob- of right, and of wrong affection, scures the cvidence 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 holy. 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
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 believ: 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 fall into great sin. Their persetheir affections are not uninter: 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 well doing. condition of believers in this A man's persevering in a jour life ; thus to charge all weakney 10 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 robVol. II. No. 10. Mmm
and professed his sorrow for hisi AN EXPLANATION OF HEBREWS sin. Peter, as soon as Christ vi. 4, 5, 6.
turned and looked on him, went
out and wept bitterly. Whether, In the place above referred to, the
therefore, real saints be secured, we find these words, “ It is im
by the tenor of the covenant, possible for those, who were from total apostasy, or not: the once enlightened, and have tast
apostates here described, were ed of the heavenly gift, and were not of that class. They were permade partakers of the Holy sons, endued with supernatural Ghost, and have tasted the good
gifts; not with spiritual gråces. word of God, and the powers of The gifts and the graces of the the world to come ; if they shall
Spirit had no certain connexion. fall away, to renew them again
Some, possessing the former, unto repentance; seeing they were destitute of the latter. Our crucify to themselves afresh the
Saviour tells us, “ Many will Son of God, and put him to an
come to him and plead, that they open shame.”
had cast out devils, and done It is manifest, that the words:
tas wonderful works in his name; recited can have no reference to but he will say to them, I know the defectibility of true saints ;
you not ; depart from me, ye for all, who suppose that such
workers of iniquity:" Paul supa may fall away, believe that it is
poses “ that a man-may have all possible for them to be renewed
knowledge, may understand all again to repentance.* But of the
mysteries, may speak with the apostates, mentioned in the pas
tongue of angels, and may have sage before us, the apostle says, faith to remove mountains, and “ It is impossible to renew them
hem not have charity.": again." It will not help the mat- The descriptive terms, used ter to say; that by impossible the
in the passage under considera." apostle means extremely and pe
tion, relate to those supernatural culiarly difficult ; for then it will
gifts, and miraculous poyers, follow, that the recovery of an
which were dispensed in the offending and backsliding saint is
apostolic times, and of which mamore difficult and doubtful, than
ny unsanctified men were partakthe conversion of an habitual and
ers. These persons are said to customary sinner. This certain
have been enlightened, or “ to Jy is not true. David and Peter,
have received the knowledge of when they: had fallen, whatever.
the truth," perhaps by inspiWe suppose their fall to have
ration as well, as by hearing and been, were more easily brought
by study; for knowledge in the to repentance, than habitual, un
mysteries of religion is mentionrenewed sinners. "David, when
ed among the extraordinary giftsthe prophet reproved him, im
of the Spirit. They are said to mediately declared his iniquity,
have lasted; i. e. to have had a
measure of the heavenly gift. • This is true of Wesleyan Meth. They had received those endowodists, and other Arminian writers, ments, which were tlie gifts of but it seems not of those who embrace the construction of Luther, just given.
the Holy Ghost ; such as pros Editors. phecying, speaking with tongues,
interpreting of tongues, &c.; “as sinning wilfully, after they which gifts were bestowed after have received the knowledge of Christ's ascension by the Holy the truth ; as treading under Ghost, sent down from heaven. foot the Son of God; as countIn reference to these gifts, the ing the blood of the covenant, apostle adds, They were made wherewith he," (the Son of God) partakers of the Holy Ghost. It .“ was sanctified," (proved to be is farther said, They had tasted the Messiah) “ an unholy thing; the good word of God ; i. e. had and as doing despite to the Spirit seen the evidence of its truth; of grace." felt a conviction of its impor- The persons then, here detance; been in some measure scribed, are such as had been reformed by its influence; and guilty of the sin unto death ; perhaps preached it to others the sin, which our Saviour dewith some success. St. Peter nominates, “ speaking against, speaks of some, who through or blaspheming the Holy Ghost," the knowledge of the Lord and and which, he says, “ shall never Saviour escape the pollutions of be forgiven." The reason, why the world, and yet are again en- it cannot be forgiven, the apostle tangled therein and overcome.” here assigns, “ It is impossible These apostates are farther said to renew them again to repentto have tasted the powers of the ance ; for they have malignantly world 10 come. The world or rejected the highest evidence age to come, is a phrase used in that can be given in favour of prophecy for the times of the the gospel; and have impiously Messiah. The same and simi- trampled on the last means, lar phrases are used in the New which God will use for their Testament. The powers of the conversion ; and have not only world to come are the miraculous resisted, but blasphemed, and depowers, dispensed in the time of spitefully treated the Spirit of Christ and his apostles. To grace. taste these powers is to have a As this subject has been parportion of them.
ticularly illustrated, in the Panor In this description there is plist, Vol. I. page 442, the wrinothing, which implies a reno. ter begs leave thither to refer vation of heart, or any thing the reader for farther satisface more, than what an unsanctified tion. person might, in those days of
THEOPHILUS. miraculous gifts, be supposed to possess. The persons here described,
THE DECALOGUE. the apostle supposes, might fall away; and so fall away, as to NINTH COMMANDMENT. tally to reject, and virulently
“ Thou shalt not bear false witness to oppose the gospel of salva
against thy neighbour,” tion. Of these apostates, he says, “ They crucify to them: NEIGHBOUR, according to gosselves afresh the Son of God, pel use, extends to any of many and put him to an open shame." kind, with whom we may have He afterward describes them, intercourse. “ This command