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Except a man be truly converted, he can persevere only in open ungodliness or in hypocrisy: except he have scriptural evidence of his conver sion, he cannot warrantably conclude any thing concerning his perseverance: and if
and if any one, while living in habitual sin, or in a negligent and slothful manner, encourages himself by this doctrine, he is guilty of awful presumption. But the true Christian, habitually and sincerely abiding in Christ, and walking in all his ordinances and commandments; amidst bis sharp conflicts with corruption and temptation, and his fears of future consequences, may find a most reviving cordial to refresh his drooping spirits, and renew his strength, from the assurance that Christ will make him at length more than conqueror, and “preserve him from
every evil work unto his heavenly kingdom.”
The stony-ground hearers, however flourishing, having no root in themselves, must one day wither away. The ground overgrown with thorns, the emblem of worldly professors, will “ bear no fruit
to perfection.” But they who receive the seed in good ground, in an honest and good heart, made such by divine grace, will“ bring forth fruit “ with patience."
“ Whosoever drinketh of the “ water that I shall give him,” says our Lord to the woman of Samaria, meaning especially the Spirit of life and holiness, “shall never thirst, but the
water that I shall give him, shall be in him a “ well of water, springing up into everlasting
“ life.” It will spring up in all holy affections, and flow forth in all holy thoughts, words, and actions, until it be perfected in eternal glory.'
The real Christian is generally very far from thinking he has attained perfection. As a poor sinner, he still feels abundant cause for the daily exercise of repentance and faith; and he daily needs the free mercy of the Father, the precious blood of the Son, and fresh supplies of the grace of the Spirit. He has occasion for constant watchfulness and prayer, and he often wants reproof and chastisement. Seasons of slacknesss and instances of transgression, he has to mourn over : and if he steps farther out of the
his security lies in the following promises and assurances :“As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.
They shall be my people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the
good of them and of their children after them : “ and I will make an everlasting covenant with
them, that I will not turn away from them to “ do them good, and I will put my fear into their “ hearts, that they shall not depart from me.'” For in this manner, the Lord brings back his offending children with weeping and supplication. The final perseverance of all, who hold certain doctrines, relate plausible experiences, or make a credible profession, cannot be made to consist with
! John iv. 14. vij. 37-39. ? Jer. sxxii. 38-40,
matter of fact. But the final perseverance of the true penitent believer in Christ, who is delivered from the dominion of sin; who through faith in Christ has in some degree overcome the world, and aspires after a more complete victory; who has learned to hate all sin, and delight in the law of God, and is hungering and thirsting after righteousness, is doubtless a truth of God's word. Yea, without a peradventure, the meanest, feeblest, true believer on earth shall infallibly “ be kept by the power of God, through faith "unto salvation." « For this is the will of him “ that sent me, that of all whom he hath given
me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up “ again at the last day."
And this leads me,
V. To observe,-THAT ALL THIS IS PER
CONSISTENT WITH MANY THINGS WHICH SOME OBJECT TO,
AS ARMINIANISM. -It is surprising to hear some, who profess themselves Calvinists, in doubt whether their principles be consistent with the government of the world by rewards and punishments, proposed as motives to the hopes and fears of mankind.--Surely if the Bible do, in any part of it, teach those doctrines, which are commonly denominated Calvinism, they must implicitly pervade the whole of it; and we can have no occasion to resort to an opposite system, in order to explain
any part of the sacred volume. For what reason, can any one suppose that punishment is less deserved on these principles than on the other ? The foreknowledge or secret purpose of God is not the effective cause, or inducing motive, of any man's rebellion, impenitence, and rejection of the gospel; and therefore cannot form an excuse for thein, or render his condemnation less just. This decree neither deprives him of any thing good which he either possessed or merited, nor puts any evil disposition into his heart. The Lord merely determines to leave the sinner to himself; without any efficacious unmerited interposition, to prevent him from destroying himself by his voluntary wickedness and obstinacy. On the other hand, a man must deviate very far indeed from the whole scheme of Christianity, who supposes that the reward of a believing sinner is merited. Many Arminians allow as expressly, though perhaps not quite so consistently, as the Calvinists, that the reward is not of debt, but of grace. Fear of future punishment, yea, hope of future reward (though blind and presumptuous) answer, even respecting those who eventually perish, important purposes in God's providence, exactly the same upon one scheme as the other. They are not etfectual for the salvation of the ungodly; but they keep mankind in some measure of order, and prevent much wickedness : for, what a world would it be, were all the wicked entirely liberated from
the fear of future punishment, or wholly desperate! At the same time the Lord, in calling his Elect and in preserving them in his ways, draws them on, and effects his purposes of love, in a considerable degree by means of their lopes of future happiness and fears of future misery.
What then is there in these doctrines inconsistent with charging guilt upon men's consciences? warning them to flee from the wrath to come? laying open the law as the ministration of condenination? calling upon sinners to repent and believe the gospel, and exhorting them to “la“bour for the meat which endureth unto ever
lasting life,” to “ strive to enter in at the strait gate,” 'to search the Scriptures, to pray, ,
" to press into the kingdom of heaven, to forsake "their sins, and to separate from simers ?” These are the appointed means, which, in all
have been owned by God for the conviction of sinners; and though, without supernatural grace, they prove-insufficient to overcome man's strong corruption, yet they are suitable means; as suitable as "ploughing and sowing to procure the crop, though here also God only can give the increase; so suitable, that in the mouth of the prisoner Paul they made even a proud Felix tremble, and almost persuaded Agrippa to be a Christian.
What is there inconsistent with inviting sin'ners to come to Christ? with warning them not to neglect such great salvation, not to refuse him that