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suasion imply, that it is not possible for them to fall? But will they pretend, that they are more holy than our first parents were, when they came perfect from the hands of their Maker? Or that they are more holy than angels in heaven? On what then do they build this persuasion, if not the present strength of their love to God? If it be not built on this, it must be built on some supposed revelation which God has made to them in particular, to let them know that they are to be saved; unless they build their persuasion on the general promise, that believers shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation? To build on the great degree of love which they feel in their hearts, to make it sure they shall persevere, is to trust their own hearts, which is folly. To build hopes of perseverance on some supposed revelation made to them in particular, is enthusiasm. But to build hopes of perseverance on promises, made to all believers, that the Lord will be their Shepherd, not only to feed them, but to keep them, and restore their souls, and lead them in paths of righteousness for his name's sake, is to build on a sure foundation.
Let it now be clearly understood, that we build all our hopes of the certain perseverance of all the sanctified, not on the inamissibleness of their sanctification, but upon the nature of the covenant into which they are thereby brought. The covenant of grace is established upon better promises, than the covenant of works. It is ordained in the hands of a Mediator, who says to to such as are brought into the covenant, "Because I live, ye shall live also." "Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." "God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Cor. x. 13. I would now demand of our theological opponents, whether they do not perceive a perfect difference between the state of the christian, walled around with such promises as these; and the state of Adam in Paradise, and of angels in heaven, while not confirmed in holiness? Was there any promise in the covenant of works, that a faithful God would not suffer them to be
tempted above what they were able to bear, and that with the temptation he would make a way to escape?
To us it is most evident, that the Bible saints built all their assurance of salvation on the better promises of the new covenant; even of that covenant which is ordered in all things, and sure to all the seed. When Paul, in the close of the 8th chapter of Romans, expressed such a full persuasion concerning his own salvation, and the salvation of his brethren, it was most manifestly in view of the golden chain of grace, which he saw fastened to the throne of God. It was in the same chapter where he had said; "There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit :" and where he had said; "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God :" and where he had said; "Moreover whom he did predestinate them he also called and whom he called, them he also justified : and whom he justified them he also glorified. What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" He proceeds to put these unanswerable questions: "He that spared his own Son-how shall he not with him freely give us all -things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?Who is he that condemneth? Who shall separate us from the love of God?-For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life- shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
This view of christian doctrines, leads the believer to build all his hopes of heaven, and his assurance of being enabled to persevere, on covenanted grace; and this is the only scheme of doctrine, which completely leads him out of himself. By this he is taught to depend upon Christ, not only to keep him while he continues to believe and obey, but to depend upon Christ alone, to preserve within him a spirit of faith and obedience. The difference which on this point, exists between us and the Arminians, will be easily perceiv ed by adverting to an illustration of their doctrine, which is made use of by Mr. B. in his Letters, p. 244: "A friend says to a drowning man," Hold fast to my hand,
and I will draw you from the water." Does the drowning man save himself in this instance, or does his friend deliver him?" Here one of the most essential things in the doctrine of salvation by free grace, is left out of sight. It is true, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is manifested in saving the sinner who by faith lays hold, and who by faith keeps hold of his hand; but this is not revealing all his grice. His grace is most gloriously manifested, in giving the sinner a heart to lay hold of him by faith, and in giving him a heart to keep hold by the same faith, even unto the end.
The view which we have taken of the covenant of grace, as securing by promise the perseverance of all real saints, is the only scheme of grace, which really admits of an assured hope of salvation. On no other scheme can any one know that he shall ever go to heaven, until he has arrived there. In the first covenant, the covenant of works made with sinless creatures, it could not be known to any one, that he should persevere to the end of his frobation, until that season of probation had actually expired. For, tho' there was. a firm promise of life to the obedient, there was no promise which secured the continuation of an obedient temper to those who were now obedient. Therefore the first covenant did not admit of such a thing, as an assured hope of eternal blessedness while the season of trial lasted. The tenor of that covenant was, "Hold fast to my hand," and you shall be safe: But there was no promise which said, I will hold thy hand, and will keep thee: There was no promise which said, As thy days, so shall thy strength be. Therefore there could then be no persuasion, that he who had begun a good work would perform it.
III. It is objected against our doctrine; "It renders. useless a great part of the Bible; for it must be admitted that there are innumerable places where the condition of salvation is expressed. Such as, If ye endure-Be thou faithful-If ye hold fast the beginning of your confidence to the end-Strive to enter in at the strait gate-If ye do these things ye shall never fall-If these things be in you and abound. We have also a great many cautions, Quench not the Spirit, &c. If there be no possibility of final apostasy, all these con
ditions, to the performance of which the promise is made; and all these cautions are entirely useless." p. 249. I would ask my antagonist, whether that revelation, which God made to his servant Paul, concerning the temporal salvation of all who were with him in the ship, did not make it certain that they would all get to land? I would also ask, whether we are to consider the apostle as having forgotten this revelation, when he said afterwards, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Here was a divine promise made to Paul, concerning the personal salvation of a particular number, known by name; and yet he never thought, nor did they think, of relaxing attention to the means of preserving their lives. He exhorted them to take some meat for their health; and exhorted them to prevent the sailors from leaving the ship. They pressed the ship as near to the shore as possible, and then used all suitable means to escape from the wreck to the land. Now, if means were not only useful, but absolutely necessary in this case ;-if they could even be urged as a sine qua non, by him who had declared from the mouth of God, that they should all get safe to land; who will dare to say, that the certainty of the saints' perseverance, renders useless all cautions and exhortations, and makes all conditions absurd? Concerning the ship the truth was, God had absolutely determined, that all who were in it should be saved from a watery grave, but he had also, with as much absoluteness, determined that this salvation should be in the use of certain means on their part. This laid a foundation to exhort them to use these means, and to tell them, that if these means were neglected they could not be saved.
God has absolutely determined, that there shall be a Millennium of holiness and peace on the earth. He says concerning it, I the Lord will hasten it in his time. To effect this, he has determined that his church, before the introduction of the Millennium, shall be brought into a state of spiritual travail, and that by their means gospel light shall be diffused. This makes it proper to exhort the people of God, to awake, all as one man, and strive together in their prayers, to bring forward that glorious day, and to make every effort to spread
the knowledge of Christ through the whole earth. It also makes it proper to say, Except Zion travail, the latter day glory cannot commence.-Except christians use means to diffuse abroad the knowledge of Christ, the world cannnot be saved. But when we use this language, which points out our duty, and the absolute necessity of means, according to the fixed plan of the Most High, we do not express the least doubt of the promises of God, concerning this future glorious day, or of his faithfulness to fulfil them.
According to our views of the covenant of grace, it contains promises which ensure the perseverance of the saints. But we also believe, that they are to persevere in the use of appointed means. It is not determined they shall go to heaven, any more than it is determined, that they shall hold on in the narrow path which leads to it. It is therefore perfectly consistent to say; that except they endure to the end they cannot be saved. And this makes it proper to exhort them, to take heed lest they fall away. Tho' it will probably be granted by our opponents, that Paul had a full assurance of his own salvation; yet he tells us, that he kept under his body and brought it into objection, lest after having preached to others he himself should be a castaway. 1. Cor. ix. 27. In this view of the subject it can be seen, that our scheme of the covenant of grace, does not render useless a great part of the Bible. It does not render useless the conditions, and cautions, with which the scripture abounds.
IV. It is objected that our doctrine of Perseverance is dangerous. "Your doctrine," says Mr. B. "is as dangerous as it is comfortless. If the first act of divine grace is believed to be justification, and if after a sinner has experienced light and conviction, he rests satisfied, believing he cannot so fall as to perish, and if he should be mistaken in his conclusion respecting his own experience, (which I think you will allow is possible that he may be)-Admitting, I say, this to be the case, such a man is in imminent danger of eternal perdition." P. 147.
In addition to the answers given to the preceding obe jections, which are also applicable to this, we would remark; that the scriptures require all professed be