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hath trespassed;" or as it may more literally be rendered; "in his falling away in which he fell away," or to lay aside the Hebrew idiom, "in his grievous or total falling away, he shall die." The Hebrew word by in this place the LXX sometimes render by αποςτασισ.
What great difficulty then at tends the construction of this
passage e? You, indeed, present one difficulty in the following words; "Will it be said, that by falling away the apostle did not mean simply falling away, how ever complete, but an irrecovera ble falling away? Then the text will amount precisely to this; "Those, who fall irrecoverably, it is impossible to recover." This, as you observe, is not much in the apostle's way of writing. According to him, their being irrecoverably lost is the consequence of the particular sin mentioned. "If they fall away;" if they turn from their righteousness, or totally apostatize from God; this is the sin designed ; "it is impossible again to renew them to repentance." This is the dreadful consequence, which the righteousness of God has threatened.
tasted the heavenly gift. And God has judged it proper to guard his people against falling away by the most alarming commination. The sins of wicked men in general may be repented of and forgiven. But the sin of falling away, fixing men absolutely in impenitence, would, if committed, be irremissible, and exclude them forever from the covenant of grace. How momentous, then, how interesting to Christians, and how conducive to their persevering in holiness, is the apostle's premonitory address!*
5. Toward the close of your observations you inform us, that "the Calvinist tells a professor,
* Since Luther finished his reply to J. C. and transmitted it to the Editors of the Panoplist, the observations of a learned friend have excited his attention to the following criticism.
The hypothetical expression, "If they shall fall away," is not, it is asserted, a just translation of the original. The words, zaι TagaπiσoITAS, are evidently used to complete the description of the characters before introduced. The proper rendering of the passage is obviously this: For it is impossible to renew again to repentance those, who have been once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, and have fallen away. The last clause, και παραπέσοντας, is no more hypothetical, than the one, 'which precedes, και καλον γευσαμενους Θεου ζημα, &c. If this criticism be valid, the falling away mentioned actually belongs to the persons described, whom, on that very account, no
Calvinist will consider as true believers. Accordingly, there will remain, it is said, no further controversy re
specting this passage among those,
who hold the doctrine of the saints' perseverance.
if you entirely lose holiness you are lost." As you professedly embrace the principles of a Calvinist, I wish, Sir, without questioning the propriety of such an address, to make a little inquiry as to your meaning, when you use it. You tell a professor," if you entirely lose holiness, you are lost." Do you consider the professor thus addressed, as a sincere godly professor, or a false professor? Or do you leave it to be applied to either, without determining which? If you inean a false professor, then the naked sentiment conveyed is this; if you entirely lose the holiness, which you never had, you are lost. If you mean a godly professor, then the address agrecs perfectly with the construction of Heb. vi. 4-6, which has just been defended. If you would leave it to apply to either, without determining which; then you leave us at liberty to adopt either of the two meanings, which have been mentioned, and the spirit of the address is plainly this; whether you are a true, or a false professor, if you entirely lose holiness, you are lost.
be most seriously remembered, that the only evidence of our being in the covenant of grace is to be found in the exercises and fruits of holiness.
As to the evidence of persons' being in the covenant of grace, or not, I would briefly remark, that their finding in themselves, at present, no exercise of piety, is no certain proof against their being saints. As far, as sin prevails in believers, it sensibly obscures the evidence of their being heirs of glory. But their being conscious at any time, of nothing but sin, is no infallible proof against their saintship. If they always perceived themselves to be the subjects of holiness, they might always feel assured of salvation. But it is to
6. I cannot willingly close without observing, that every attempt to account for the perseverance of saints on any ground, but the gracious purpose of God, and the promised agency of his Spirit, appears antiscriptural, and tends to keep them from the rock of their confidence. The hypothesis of a principle or seed of holiness, inherent in believ ers, is wholly inadequate to the purpose. Admitting there is a principle in the renewed hearts of believers, distinct from actual conformity to God's law, and antecedent to good affection, which is nevertheless the foundation or spring of good affection ; that principle or substratum of good affection cannot be supposed to operate independently of divine influence. So that perseverance must still be considered, as resulting wholly from the unfailing energy of divine grace. After the writings of Reid, Stewart, and others, it is too late to depend on any analogical or hypothetical reasoning respecting the operations of the mind. In the present case such reasoning appears quite unnecessary. Man possesses the faculties of a rational, moral agent. He is capable of right, and of wrong affection, of holiness and sin. When, as a moral agent, he is under the sanctifying influence of the Spirit, or in the words of Scripture, when God worketh in him both to will and to do, his moral feelings and acts are holy. When he is governed by a depraved heart, 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 believe ner, Christians perseverc 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 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 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 robVol. II. No. 10. Mmm
and professed his sorrow for his 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, 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 gist, and were made partakers of the Holy sorrs endued with supernatural
not of that class. They were perGhost, and have tasted the good gifts; not with spiritual graces. 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 wonderful works in his name ; recited can have no reference to but he will say to them, I know the defectibility of true saints ; for all, who suppose that such you not ; depart from me, ye
workers of iniquity." Paul supmay fall away, believe that it is possible for them to be renewed poses that a man may have all
knowledge, may understand all again to repentance.* But of the apostates, mentioned in the pas- tongue of angels, and may have
mysteries, may speak with the sage before us, the apostle says, faith to remove mountains, and “ It is impossible to renew them
not have charity.” again.” It will not help the mal
The descriptive terms, used ter to say, that by impossible the in the passage under consideraapostle means extremely and ne- tion, relate to those supernatura! culiarly difficult ; for then it will
gifts, and miraculous powers, 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 the conversion of an habitual and ny unsanctified men were partak
These persons are said to customary sinner. This certain
have been enlightened, or “to ly 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 io repentance, than habitual, un
mysteries of religion is mentionrenewed sinners. David, when
ed among the extraordinary gifts the prophet reproved him, im
of the Spirit. They are said to mediately declared his iniquity, have tasted, i.e. to have had a
measure of the heavenly gift. This is true of Wesleyan Meth. They had received those endow. odists, and other Arminian writers, but it seems not of those who embrace
ments, which were the gifts of the construction of Luther, just given. the Holy Ghost ; such as pro
Editors. phecying, speaking with tongues,
interpreting of tongues, &c.; which gifts were bestowed after Christ's ascension by the Holy Ghost, sent down from heaven. In reference to these gifts, the apostle adds, They were made partakers of the Holy Ghost. It is farther said, They had tasted the good word of God; i. e. had seen the evidence of its truth; felt a conviction of its importance; been in some measure reformed by its influence; and perhaps preached it to others with some success. St. Peter speaks of some, who through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour escape the pollutions of the world, and yet are again entangled therein and overcome." These apostates are farther said to have tasted the powers of the world to come. The world or age to come, is a phrase used in prophecy for the times of the Messiah. The same and similar phrases are used in the New Testament. The powers of the world to come are the miraculous powers, dispensed in the time of Christ and his apostles. To taste these powers is to have a portion of them.
In this description there is nothing, which implies a renovation of heart, or any thing more, than what an unsanctified person might, in those days of miraculous gifts, be supposed to possess,
The persons here described, the apostle supposes, might fall away; and so fall away, as totally to reject, and virulently to oppose the gospel of salvation. Of these apostates, he says, "They crucify to themselves afresh the Son of God, and put him to an open shame." He afterward describes them,
"as sinning wilfully, after they have received the knowledge of the truth; as treading under foot the Son of God; as counting the blood of the covenant, wherewith he," (the Son of God)
was sanctified," (proved to be the Messiah) “ an unholy thing; and as doing despite to the Spirit of grace."
The persons then, here described, are such as had been guilty of the sin unto death; the sin, which our Saviour denominates, "speaking against, or blaspheming the Holy Ghost," and which, he says, "shall never be forgiven." The reason, why it cannot be forgiven, the apostle here assigns, "It is impossible to renew them again to repentance; for they have malignantly rejected the highest evidence that can be given in favour of the gospel; and have impiously trampled on the last means, which God will use for their conversion; and have not only resisted, but blasphemed, and despitefully treated the Spirit of grace.
As this subject has been particularly illustrated, in the Panoplist, Vol. I. page 442, the writer begs leave thither to refer the reader for farther satisfaction.
NINTH COMMANDMENT. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour."
NEIGHBOUR, according to gospel use, extends to any of mankind, with whom we may have intercourse. "This command