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lievers, to hold themselves in readiness to attend to the exhortation, Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith Every man should be always ready to prove his own work. Among the evidences of our being in the faith, and of the genuineness of our religion, this is essential; that it should be of that kind which endures; which, instead of withering away, grows more flourishing. Here is a man who declares, that ten years ago he was converted; that is to say, ten years ago he drank the living water which none but Christ can give. Is not this one proper question to ask him : Has the water answered to the description which Christ gave of it, in this respect;—that it should prove to be in you a well of living water? If he cannot say that this has been the case, we may tell him at once, 'You are mistaken about the water you drank. You might have thought it was Christ's living water, when you drank it; but if it had in reality been this water, it would have answered to the description which he gave of it for it always constitutes, in the hearts of those who drink it, a well of water springing up into everlasting life.'
In the case of the men who were in the ship with Paul, we saw that means were necessary to their safety, after assurance had been given, that they should all escape. The case of believers is somewhat different from that. There, the very persons were known, without any respect to character, concerning whom this promise was made. But believers have not the promise of eternal life made to them by name. While they are unbelievers, they cannot know that God designs to save them; and after they become believers, their knowledge of his design to save them, is in proportion to the scriptural evidence which they have of the genuineness of their faith; and this is in proportion to the strength, the purifying effect, and fruitfulness of faith.
When matters are viewed in this point of light, (and in this point of light they ought to be viewed,) the objection, which we are now considering, appears to be without foundation. We will not say, that hypocrites have never abused this doctrine: But shall we withhold the children's bread from them, for fear that
others will make an improper use of it? We will not say, that christians themselves have never abused this precious doctrine. Through remaining corruption, they are liable to abuse all the goodness and mercy of their heavenly Father. But shall we therefore seek to keep out of sight the goodness and mercy of God, be cause they have been abused?
But say our opponents; Is not our doctrine, of a os→ sibility of falling from grace, the safest? To this it may be replied: If it be truth, it is no doubt the safest, If it be not the truth, it is no doubt a dangerous error. Error, however specious, is always dangerous. It tends to sap the foundation, which supports the great system of truth. The error, (for such we deem it,) that we have now been opposing, strikes at the very life of the covenant of grace. It takes the salvation of the church out of the hands of the Redeemer, and places it in their own fallible hands. It leads them to trust for perseverance on something besides the promises of God, which are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus. It suffers the gates of hell to prevail against the church. Every thing is put afloat; and whether any of those, who now believe in the Son of God, will ever be with him in glory, is to us a matter of entire uncertainty.
We were just closing this part of our work, when this sentence caught our eye: "When you are able to bring one text which says a saint cannot thus fall away, it will be time to review the ground; but this you neither have, nor can do, and as to your inferential proof, deduced from the covenant of redemption, and covenant of grace, as it is founded in erroneous conceptions of those covenants, it can never stand against the pointed testimony of scripture." p. 234. If my conceptions of these covenants are entirely erroneous, then it is probable, that the arguments which I have drawn from them, are also erroneous; but if these covenants contain promises, which ensure the salvation of all, who are once united to Christ, then these covenants cannot be far from direct proof of the doctrine of the saints' perseverance. If we can show, that in the covenant which the Father has made with the Divine Son, there is a promise, that the covenant shall stand fast with him, and if we can show, that
this covenant includes blessings for his seed, (i. e. for those who believe in him,) and that it is among the blessings promised, that they shall be made to endure forever; and if the covenant is particular in this, that their transgressions shall be chastised, but shall not prevail to disinherit them, and prevent them from continuing to receive expressions of his loving kindness, through the medium of their holy Advocate; the inference is very surely drawn; That true believers will not any of them fall away and perish. See Psal. lxxxix. If the Son has declared that his covenant engagements to the Father are such, that of all the Father hath given, he should lose nothing, the inference is not far-fetched, That no believer will ever be lost. See John vi. 37-40.
If in the covenant of rich grace, which the God of Israci makes with those who return to him, not feignedly, but with all the heart, he confirms the covenant in Christ; if they are now made one with Christ so as to be considered members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones; if he is made of God unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption;‡ if their life is hid with Christ in God, and he has become their life,§ so as to say to them, Because I live, ye shall live also ;|| -if he promises, that his grace shall be sufficient for them, and his strength made perfect in their weakness;T- -if he promises to succor them when they are tempted, and always make a way for their escape ;**if he keepeth the feet of his saints, so that none of their steps shall slide ;‡‡—if he promises to restore their souls, and lead them in paths of righteousness for his name's sake ;§§— if he promises to put his fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from him; and to work in them both to will and to do, of his good pleasure,¶¶ even that which is well pleasing in his sight,***is there no certainty of their perseverance in faith and well doing? Does all this amount only to inferential proof of the impossibility of their being left to fall away and perish? What
Gal. iii. 17. † Eph. v. 30. 1 Cor. i. 30. John xiv. 19. 2 Cor. xii. 9. ** 1 Cor. x. # Psal. xxxvii. 31. $ Psal. xxiii. 3. Phil. ii. 13. *** Heb. xiii. 21.
Col. iii. 3, 4. 13. 1 Sam. Jer. xxxii. 40.
can be more direct proof of this impossibility, than the promises of God, to keep them by his power, through their faith unto salvation
We have seen how perfectly reconcileable with our views of this doctrine, are those if's, which my antagonist seems to consider as foundation enough to support their views of the doctrine. The conditions on which God promises heaven to his people; the caveats, and the many pressing exhortations which are addressed to them, spurring them on to duty, are all perfectly harmonious with the doctrine of a certain and infallible connexion between the beginning, and perfection of grace in their hearts. But their views of the doctrine, are totally irreconcileable with those promises in the covenants of redemption, and of grace, which provide for the perpetuity of holiness in the hearts of believers. Their views of the doctrine may be reconciled with the promises of eternal life, made to those who are faithful to the death; but they cannot be reconciled with those promises, which engage that grace, which shall insure this faithfulness unto death. All the promises in God's word, which belong to this class, (and there are many such,) do not harmonize with their scheme of doctrine. But the other class of promises, is not at all at variance with the scheme which we advocate. Our views of this particular article of christian doctrine, are now before the reader. Let him compare what he has read with the standard, and then judge.
* 1 Pet. i. 5.
REMARKS ON SATAN'S TRANSFORMATION INTO AN AN GEL OF LIGHT, AND ALSO ON THE TRANSFORMATION OF HIS MINISTERS INTO THE APOSTLES OF CHRIST; BEING MADE IN VIEW OF WHAT IS FOUND ON THESE SUBJECTS IN MR. BANGS' SIXTH LETTER.
TO the five Sermons occasioned by the Debate were added three other Sermons, which were thought to be on important subjects. The first of these was" on the duty of all men to be holy like God." This sermon was founded upon Levit. xix. 2-Speak unto all the congre gation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy. The second of these sermons was, "on the difference of character between the unconverted and converted, as consisting in supreme regard to self, and supreme regard to God." The text of this sermon was 2 Cor. v. 15.And he died for all, that they which live should not hence forth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. The last of these three sermons was on the subject of Satan's transformation into an angel of light." The text was 2 Cor. xi. 14.And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an an. gel of light.
On the first of these sermons, I do not discover that Mr. Bangs has made any remarks. In his last Letter he makes some remarks on the two last sermons. takes the first notice of the last sermon, namely, the one which treats of Satan's transformation into an angel