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been given till the work of their salvation is completed. I do not conceive it to be possible to express more explicity the perseverance of the saints. If the Holy Spirit shall never be taken from them, then they shall never fall from a state of grace.
There are two offices assigned to the Spirit, from which we may draw the same conclusion. He is sent to seal believers, and to be the earnest of the future inheritance. They are both mentioned in the following passage:
* Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.' A seal was used for different purposes ;-to mark a person's property, to secure his treasures, or to authenticate a deed. In the first sense, the Spirit distinguishes believers as the peculiar people of God; in the second, he guards them as his precious jewels; in the third, he confirms or ratifies their title to salvation. And can we suppose that this work of the Spirit may be counteracted, and rendered of no effect; that those whom he has separated to God may be again confounded with the mass of sinners; that the treasures over which he watches may be scattered and lost; and that the title of the saints, although authenticated by his signature, may be reversed ? With the gift of the Spirit for the purpose of sealing, the Apostle connects the idea of establishment; but according to the hypothesis of our adversaries, they are not connected, and he who has been sealed may stumble and fall. We know, however, whom it will be our wisdom to believe.-Again, the Spirit is represented as “an earnest.” An earnest is a part given as a security for the future possession of the whole. The Holy Ghost is the earnest of the heavenly inheritance, because he begins that holiness in the soul which will be perfected in heaven, and imparts those joys which are foretastes of its blessedness. A work may be begun, but not finished, because the workman has desisted from a change of views, or has met with obstacles which made it impossible to proceed. Those with whom we contend are of opinion that, from the latter cause, the work of grace in the heart of man may be stopped, namely, from his waywardness and obstinacy. But if the workman has pledged himself to execute his plan, and is possessed of sufficient resources to fulfill his engagement, the work will go on, and in due time will be completed. Now, the design of representing the Spirit as an earnest, is manifestly to assure us that the work which he has begun in the soul of believers, he will “ perform to the day of Jesus Christ.” The designation given to him is an assurance that he will not desist. He could not be an earnest, if it might happen that those who had received him should not obtain the inheritance. To call him so in this case, would create false expectations. But, let God be true, and every man who contradicts him a liar. If he has granted his people the earnest of the Spirit in their hearts, he will not fail to bestow all the blessedness for which he has given them reason to hope. “ If children, they are heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with his Son Jesus Christ."
Some of the arguments by which our opponents support their doctrine, have been occasionally mentioned. I shall now take notice of their reasoning from certain passages of Scripture. The first
argument is founded upon the following words in the eighteenth chapter of Ezekiel : “ When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.”! Here it is supposed, they say, that a righteous man may fall from holiness, and perish in guilt. There is an answer to this argument, which they treat with contempt as a mere evasion, * 2 Cor. i. 21, 22. † Rom. viii. 17.
Ezek. xviii. 24. VOL. II.-37.
namely, that the person here mentioned is not a saint, but a man of a good moral character, and that the life and death spoken of in the passage are of a temporal nature. It is justified, however, by the context; and whoever exainines it with attention will find, that nothing is said of him which may not be affirmed of many who have a form of godliness, but have not experienced its power; and that the prophet is describing the treatment of different characters in the course of God's providential government. We grant that such a man may fall from his righteousness ; while at the same time, with perfect consistency, we affirm the perseverance of the saints. But there is another answer,—that this is a hypothetical statement, the design of which is to point out the connexion, under the Divine administration,between righteousness and happiness, and between unrighteousness and misery. We have a similar statement in another place, where an Apostle says to believers, “ If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die ;''* although we know, from the principles of Paul, that he did not conceive it possible that a true saint should perish. The import of such statements is simply this, that if one thing happen another will follow. But they do not affirm the actual existence of either the one or the other. When a philosopher says, If a comet should impinge upon the earth, or come too near it, the earth would be shattered into pieces, or burnt up, or driven from its orbit,—he does not suppose or fear that his hypothetical case will be realized. What, then, it may be asked, is the use of such statements ? I answer, that, while they point out the necessity of continuance in holiness to the attainment of final salvation, they are a mean of exciting believers to watchfulness, and diligence, and prayer, and thus contribute to their perseverance in grace ; for God deals with them as rational creatures, and works upon them by motives addressed to their hopes and their fears. Another argument is founded on the parable of the sower:
6. He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it: Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while ; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”p It is not a little surprising, that this passage should be quoted by our opponents in support of their doctrine. It speaks evidently of a man who receives the word of God and continues for a time, and then falls away; and thus far it is quite to their purpose. But unhappily for them, our Saviour gives us the reason of failure, that he has no root in himself; plainly imply. ing that, if he had had root in himself, he would have withstood every temptation. The passage, instead of militating against our doctrine, plainly teaches the perseverance of the saints, by signifying that the cause why some do not persevere is, that they are not saints, or have not the grace of God in their hearts ; for this is the only root which can preserve the plant from withering away. Our Lord distinguishes such hearers of the word from believers, when he describes the former as stony ground, and the latter as good ground. He thus points out an essential difference between them. They are not of the same species; and it is altogether illogical to conclude, that what may be affirmed of the one may also be affirmed of the other.
The next argument is deduced from these words in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away,” or, “ having fallen away, to renew them again unto repentance ; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”! This passage is eagerly laid hold of by those who deny the perseverance of the saints, as decisive in their favour; for, are not the persons described manifestly possessed of the characteristic qualifications of • Rom. viii. 13. + Matth. xiii. 20, 21.
# Heb. vi. 4-6.
the saints, and yet it is supposed that they may irrecoverably apostatize. Let us examine the qualifications, and see whether they imply any thing which may not be found in the unregenerated. “ They were once enlightened ;” but so may all be said to be to whom the Gospel is preached, and who are acquainted with its doctrines. They have “received the knowledge of the truth," as the Apostle expresses himself in another part of this epistle ; or, as Peter says, they have “known the way of righteousness. Iy this manner, ihe unbelieving Jews were enlightened, and for this reason their sin was highly aggravated : “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin.”|-" They were made partakers of the Holy Ghost;" but so are all those who experience his common influences, by which they are impressed under the dispensation of the Gospel; and so were those in the primitive times who were endowed with miraculous powers, which were given to them by the Spirit. But that such persons were not all true believers, is evident from the words of our Lord to some of them : “ Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you."| He never acknowledged them as genuine disciples.--" They have tasted the good word of God;" so had the hearers in the parable of the sower, whose case we considered above, and concerning whom, it is plain that they never were possessed of saving faith, for they had no root in themselves. Concerning the other two particulars, “ their partaking of the heavenly gift,” and “ tasting the powers of the world to come,” I shall say nothing, because it is doubtful what they mean, and consequently no use can legitimately be made of them in this argument. A conjectural interpretation proves nothing. We may presume, however, from the connexion in which they appear, that they imply no higher qualifications than those which have been already considered. The passage supposes the apostasy of persons who had advanced as far, it may be, as unconverted men could advance, but were destitute of true grace, which never fails.
Another passage is in the second Epistle of Peter ; but after what has been said, the solution must be so obvious, that it is unnecessary to point it out. It speaks of those who, through “the knowledge of Christ, have escaped the pollutions of the world,” and “ whose latter end is worse than their begin. ning."'S But, what were those but the temporary hearers of the Gospel of whom we have already spoken? It would require a long time, and much repetition, to follow our adversaries in their comments upon Scripture; and I shall therefore desist, as the specimen which has been given is sufficient.
They produce examples also in support of their system, as of David, Solomon, Hymeneus, Philetus, and Demas. Our answer is, that, with respect to such of them as were saints, we affirm that they might fall into great sins without losing the principle of grace; as Peter did, who retained faith, although he denied his Master; and with respect to the rest, their case has been already disposed of. The fall of mere professors of religion is nothing to the purpose.
A general argument is founded on the exhortations of Scripture, in which the saints are called to watch and labour, and work out their salvation with fear and trembling; in which exhortations it is implied, that the event is uncertain. It may be remarked that, being addressed to societies of Christians in which there was a mixture of believers and hypocrites, they were properly expressed in such a manner as to imply that the result was problematical. But, not to insist upon this answer, it ought to be considered, that the purpose of God does not supercede the use of means, nor is grace given to render our own exertions superfluous. God will certainly save those whom he has chosen, but he will save them by his word and ordinances, and by a diligent improvement of opportunities and privileges. If this is the instituted plan of effecting his purpose, exhortations and admonitions do not necessarily imply the uncertainty of the issue, but merely point out the manner and order in which the design will be accomplished. A man will not die before the appointed time, and yet there is no inconsistency in telling him, that unless he avoid dangers, and take food and medicine, he cannot live. His knowledge that upon such conditions life depends, leads him to use those precautions by which the number of his days is completed, and the Divine purpose respecting him is executed, Believers are not merely passive subjects of Divine grace, but God works in them and by them, and requires that they should do their part while he is doing his.
* Heb. x. 26. 2 Pet. ii. 21. + John xv. 22. # Matth. vii, 23. $ Pet. ü. 20.
It is objected, that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is unfavourable to the interests of holiness. But how it can have this effect, it is not easy to perceive. It is perseverance in holiness which we maintain ; or, in other words, we maintain that believers will persevere in holiness to the end; and it will require, I presume, more discernment than any of you possesses, to discover the tendency of this opinion to make men fall into sin. Our doctrine holds out no hope of final salvation to those who are living in sin. No man can have this hope unless he is walking in the way of God. It is another doctrine which is unfavourable to holiness, namely, that men shall be saved if they have once believed, although they live as they please. The objection has no relation to the genuine doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and is altogether unworthy of notice.
ON THE DEATH OF THE SAINTS, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
Reason why Death befalls Believers. Its effect upon them.—The Survivance of the Soul.
Its Immortality deduced from its Immateriality, the Nature of its Powers, the anticipations of Conscience, the present irregular distribution of Good and Evil, and from Universal Belief.
“ He that endureth to the end shall be saved."* That every genuine believer shall thus endure, we have endeavoured to prove by a variety of arguments from Scripture ; and are persuaded that although temporary professors of religion may apostatize, and the most flattering hopes may be disappointed, yet, wherever the work of grace has been begun, it will be carried on and completed. The salvation which is reserved for believers at the end of their course, comprehends the perfection and felicity of the whole man, of soul and body. I proceed to consider the subject in its several parts, and shall speak, in the first place, of the death of the saints and its consequences.
“ It is appointed unto men once to die.'t The sentence of death was pronounced upon Adam after the fall
, and his posterity were included in it, because he was their federal head. Accordingly, “ death has passed upon all men, because all have sinned;" and that it is not their personal sin which is the cause of their mortality, is evident from the fact of which the Scriptures take notice, that “death reigned from Adam to Moses," and we may add, reigns to this hour, " over them who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression;"I that is, over infants who are not capable of actual disobedience. Some affirm that death was natural to man, or that he was mortal by the constitution of his nature, and that it is therefore no proof of original guilt. But, • Matth. x. 22. + Heb. ix. 27.
* Rom. v. 12, 14,
besides that this objection has been already considered, and that there is no necessity to discuss it again, it is almost superfluous labour at any time to enter into an elaborate refutation of an opinion, which does not even possess the slightest degree of plausibility, as it directly contradicts the most explicit and solemn declarations of Scripture.
· It cannot therefore excite surprise, that all men an subject to the law of mortality, the rich and the poor, the high and the low, the young and the old, We are ignorant of the reasons for which some are cut off as soon as they see the light, while others arrive at extreme old age, and men fall at every period of life ; but we are in no uncertainty with respect to the cause of the general doom. Death is the execution of the righteous sentence, appointing the sinful inhabitants of this earth to return to the dust from which they were taken. The guilty are brought forward according to the will of the Supreme Judge, to suffer in their order the penalty of the law. Melancholy as is the spectacle of a race of rational beings, wasted by disease, and swallowed up by the grave, we can account for it consistently with the goodness of the Creator, because their fate is not an arbitrary exercise of his power, but is demanded by his justice. He has no pleasure in the mere destruction of his creatures, and would neither effect it by his own agency, nor permit it to be effected by second causes, if it were not required by the law of his moral administration.
Thus far all is plain; but when we proceed to observe, that from the law of mortality even the righteous are not exempted, the question arises, how we shall account for the indiscriminate execution of the sentence? For the righteous an atonement has been made, by which their guilt was expiated; and consequently it might be presumed that they would be delivered from all the effects of the curse. How, then, comes it to pass that they are subject to death, which is acknowledged to be the penalty of sin?
Great as this difficulty may seem, it is not the only one which occurs in the history of the saints. It is not, indeed, a solution of one difficulty, to point out others connected with the subject of inquiry; but they suggest to us, that if notwithstanding these, we could quietly retain our belief, we should not allow it to be disturbed by an additional objection, which in itself is not more formidable. If we ask, why believers undergo temporal death, although Christ has atoned for their sins ? may we not with equal reason ask, why they are not completely delivered froin the pollution of sin as well as from its guilt, as soon as they believe? Why does it remain in them to taint their duties, and to impede their consolation? Why are they still exposed to the malignity of Satan? Why are they compelled to carry a heavy burden of affliction? These things are as inconsistent with our notions of the effect of a perfect expiation of sin, as their subjection to temporal death ; for it would seem to us, that, as soon as the benefit of the atonement is applied to them, they should not only be restored to the favour of God, but completely relieved from every evil, physical and moral.
But this is not the only instance, in which our notions of what is just and fit are found not to accord with the Divine dispensations. It is certain that, if justice required, when an atonement had been made for sin, that the guilty should be fully pardoned, thus far its demands are satisfied. “ There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus;''* and consequently, we are sure that whatever may be the proceedings of Providence towards them, they are not to be considered as effects or indications of wrath. God, in stipulating with his Son the remission of those for whom he was to shed his blood, might make a reservation of some of the temporal consequences of sin, for reasons worthy of his wisdom. To these he might judge it expedient to subject them, but with a merciful design; and, with this exception, might promise to exempt them from the operation of the penalty, as a man may stipulate with the repre.
• Rom. viii, 1.