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the gospel, as Paul was in the same state. Paul acted freely in rejecting the gospel, and as freely in embracing it; and Judas, if he had pleased, might have done the same. Though he refused the overtures of mercy and betrayed his Master; yet after all, instead of destroying his own life, he might have repented and obtained forgiveness, notwithstanding the divine decree to the contrary. And this is true, in regard to all the non-elect. God has provided an atonement for them, as well as for the elect. He offers salvation to them as well as to the elect. He commands them to accept of salvation, as well as the elect. He promises salvation to them, if they will accept it, as well as to the elect. Why then do they not enjoy as fair an opportunity to obtain eternal life, as the elect? If they perish, they must necessarily perish, by their own choice. God places all under the gospel, in such a situation, that the gospel must necessarily save them, if they only choose to be saved. The servant who received one talent, was as able to improve it, and to obtain a reward from his master, as those who received and improved more talents. Those who were first invited to the gospel feast, and refused to go, were as able to go, as those were who went, and enjoyed the entertainment. The non-elect will forever feel, that they might have gone to heaven, if they had chosen to go to that holy and happy place; and that their own choice, and not the decree of reprobation shut them out of the kingdom of glory. And this will constrain them to justify God in freely offering salvation to them, and in condemning them for rejecting his gracious invitations.
4. If men have natural power to frustrate as well as to fulfil the decrees of God; then there is a propriety in the warnings, cautions, and admonitions given to saints against falling away. Many imagine that such exhortations are inconsistent with the certainty of their final perseverance. We firmly believe, that all those whom God has given to Christ in the covenant of redemption, shall certainly be renewed, sanctified, and saved. But if this be true, many are ready to ask, Why should real saints be cautioned against falling away, and threatened with final ruin, if they should fall away? This subject furnishes a complete answer to this question. It is because they have natural power to frustrate the divine decrees. They have natural power to apostatize from the faith, as well as to persevere in it. There is, therefore, a natural possibility of their falling away; and this natural possibility of falling away creates danger; and where there is danger, cautions and warnings against it, are altogether proper and necessary. Men may be in danger of an evil, which it is certain they shall eventually escape. It was after Paul had been divinely assured, that he and his company should get safe to land, that he said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved." This implies, that the certainty of their safety was consistent with the danger of their being lost. Paul was chosen from eternity to be a believer and a preacher of the gospel; but while he remained an enemy to Christ and to his followers, there was danger of his never becoming either a be: liever or preacher. And after he became a believer and a preacher, he tells us, that he still considered himself in danger of being finally cast away. Believers live in the same world, in which they lived, before they believed; they are surrounded by the same spiritual enemies, by which they were surrounded, before they believed; and they have the same natural power to renounce thegospel,which they had to reject it,before they believed; hence they stand in peculiar need of cautions ünd warnings, to resist the devil, to overcome the world, to keep themselves in the love of God, to watch and pray against temptations, and at all times, and
, under all circumstances, to take heed lest they fall. Such warnings and cautions are not only proper, but necessary means, to keep saints from falling, and to conduct them safely to the kingdom of heaven.
Finally, since God has determined to bring about great and important events by the instrumentality of men,
it is of great importance, that they should be active and diligent in carrying into execution his wise and holy designs. The means to promote any end, are as necessary as the end to be promoted. It was as necessary, that the shipmen should be restrained from leaving the ship, as that the lives of all on board should be saved. By employing men as means, in @carrying on his designs, God has made human agency extremely necessary and important. He has put it into the power of men to do unspeakable good, while they are acting their parts in this probationary state. How eminently useful were the patriarchs, the prophets, and other good men, before the gospel day; and how much more good have the apostles, the ministers, and the followers of Christ done since! The field of usefulness is continually opening wider and wider. God has let us know, that he has determined to extend his kingdom through the world, by the instrumentality of human agents. A door is open for all men of every age, character, and condition, to employ all their abilities, to bring about the most desirable and important events. All who cordially co-operate with God in fulfilling his purposes, shall meet with final success and an ample reward. These are the strongest motives to exertion, that can be presented to the minds of men. And in the view of these, let all be steadfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. Amen.
THE SCRIPTURAL ACCOUNT OF THE DEVILOUGHT
TO BE BELIEVED.
1 Pet. V, 8. Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the
devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he
IT is generally unwise to despise our enemies, because it prevents that vigilance, which is necessary to defeat their evil designs. We often suffer more from those whom we contemn, than from those whom we fear. And, perhaps, mankind in general receive much greater injuries from their common enemy, whose power and malice they vainly deride, than from all their other enemies put together. Some are ready to doubt the existence of their adversary the Devil, and consider him merely as a creature of the imagination; while others who believe his existence commonly speak of him in the most familiar terms of reproach and contempt. But if he does really exist, and possess all that malevolence, which is ascribed to him in the text; then he is certainly much more to be feared than despised. And since all men are more or less exposed to his destructive influence, it concerns them to form just apprehensions of his power and disposition to deceive and destroy them. It is proposed, therefore, in the following discourse, to give the scriptural account of the Devil, and make it appear, that we ought to believe that account.
1. Let us consider the scriptural account of the Devil. This common enemy of mankind is more fre
quently mentioned in the Bible, than any other particular person or agent, except the man Christ Jesus. He is called by a great variety of appellations. More than fifty times he is called the Devil. More than forty times he is called Satan. And he is very often designated by several other names: such as the Accuser of the brethren, Apollyon, Angel of the bottomless pit, Prince of darkness, Prince of devils, and the God of this world. Nor do the sacred writers merely mention his names, but fully describe his origin, his character, and his conduct.
1. They represent him as an apostate angel. The scripture clearly reveals the apostasy of angels. The apostle Peter says, “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” And the apostle Jude gives a similar representation. "The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great
Satan, the head and leader of these apostates, originally belonged to a high and holy order of beings. But what his first offence was, we are not expressly told in his history. Some, however, have conjectured, that his first sin consisted in refusing to obey Christ as Mediator, and to minister to those who were to be heirs of salvation. And this idea seems to be suggested by several texts of Scripture. Christ speaking of the Devil in the eighth chapter of John says, “He abode · not in the truth," that is, he was not steadfast in obedience to Him, who was the way, the truth, and the life. And this disobedient temper he might manifest, when the Father said concerning the Son, “Let all the angels of God worship him.” If, on that occasion, Satan did refuse to bow to the Mediator, it seems his first