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by his grace, and protected by his power; having fought a good fight, having finished their course, and having kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for them a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give them at that day: (2 Tim. 4:7, 8.) The sorrows, and trials, and afflictions of life being ended, they shall enter into their rest; shall be taken home to glory; shall be admitted to the immediate presence and enjoyment of God, where the weary are at rest and the wicked cease from troubling; where there is no more sickness, nor sorrow, nor death; but all is peace, and joy, and bliss. There they shall see their blessed Savior as he is, and shall be like him. Their enlarged and constantly expanding powers shall find full employment in contemplating the glorious prefections of Jehovah as there displayed. They shall unite with the holy throng around the throne of God, in ascriptions of honor, and glory, and power, unto him that sitteth
upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever. But it is beyond the power of imagination to conceive, and of language to describe, the blessedness of the children of God in the world of glory. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear, what shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is: (1 Cor. 2:9. 1 John 3:2.)
This subject strikingly exhibits both the mercy and the justice of God.
From this subject we may learn, the obligations Christians are under of gratitude to God for his great mercy; the obligations they are under to live to his honor and glory.
We may infer from this subject, also, the obligations resting upon sinners to accept of salvation as offered in the gospel, and the great danger they incur in rejecting the offer.
PSALM 37:23. The Lord forsaketh not his saints, they are pre
served for ever.
• TRULY God is not man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and will he not do it? or hath he spoken, and will he not make it good? No sentiment can be more positively affirmed, no doctrine more directly asserted, than the one contained in this text. It is hardly necessary to give it a name. It speaks out for itself, and cannot be misunderstood, much less contradicted, by the merest tyro in theology, not previously biassed against it. It stands out in such bold relief, such undisguised features, that none but the sceptical, or the mind obnubilated and enveloped in the murky atmosphere of ignorance and prejudice, can doubt its meaning, or hesitate a moment to adopt the sentiment, as the true and infallible word of God. The text suggests two things for our consideration:
1. THE CHARACTER OF THE PERSONS DESIGNATED BY THE NAME
II. THEIR CERTAIN CONSERVATION AND
I. The character of the Persons designated by the name of Saints. The term saint, is usually applied to a person eminent for godliness. The Romanists superstitiously employ it in reference to those who are canonized, after their order, by which they are made saints of a high degree. But the word is generally applied by us, to the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and other holy persons mentioned in the Scripture. Indeed, the term saints, so frequently used in the Old and in the New Testaments, both individually and collectively, literally signifies holy ones, or sanctified ones; whether on earth or in heaven. Thus, we read of the saints in the earth'—the congregation of saints'---' the assembly of the saints'-—'churches of the saints' wants of the saints'
- love to the saints'-death of the saints'-saints and faithful brethren in Christ,' &c. The way by which any become saints, is not of themselves, but by the grace of God, “ by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;' as it is emphatically written, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost:' Rom. 15:16. Through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth:' 2 Thess. 2:13. So the Apostle Paul informs the believing Corinthians: “ but ye are sanctified-by the Spirit of our God: 1 Cor. 6:11. Which is fully confirmed by the same authority in 12:8: “ No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.' The saint, therefore, is one who is born of God'- born of the Spirit—through sanctification of the Spirit:' John 1:13; 3:6; 1 Pet. 1:2. The sanctification ascribed to the saints, is either of nature, being born of the Spirit, and renewed after the image of God, in spiritual knowledge, righteousnes, and true holiness: (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10,) or of practice, as they grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ — They go from strength to strength;' for, the righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.' The sanctification of the saints in this life is only perfect in parts; extending, and operating through the whole man; but it is imperfect in degrees, as may be seen from the following passages: 1 Kings 8:46; Job 9:20; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 7:14; 1 John 1:8.
This being a divine, internal, progressive work, it is common to all who are 'quickened by the Spirit, who have passed from death unto life,' who are not under the law, but under grace.' All, therefore, whether old or young, bond or free, Jew or Gentile, who have undergone this radical, spiritual change, - from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, who hath delivered us from the
power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son'all such are, by regeneration and adoption, the spiritual sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.' As, therefore, the existence and operation of one grace of the Holy Spirit, implies the existence of all the rest, so does their sanctification comprehend all the graces of knowledge, faith, repentance, love, humility, zeal, patience, &c., and the exercise thereof, both towards God and man. We include, therefore, in the term saints, all of every name and kindred, of every class and description, of every clime and nation, who are really born again;' all in whom the Holy Spirit has efficiently and savingly operated to the production of the new creature;' having a new heart, and a new spirit within them; ' that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.' And as “ wisdom is justified of her children,' so these will be made manifest to the world, as the salt of the earth,' as 'the light of the world;' and, being children of light,' will answer to their name, by an open sincere profession, solemn dedication, gracious dispositions, and religious conversation.
II. Their certain Conservation and final Perseverance. The proposition to be established is: That all who are renewed by the Spirit of God, shall, by his grace, be preserved from total apostacy, and continue to persevere in holy obedience, to the end of life, and be eternally saved. If this proposition cannot be maintained by positive Scripture proof and solid argument, we despair of establishing, by the same method, any other doctrinal proposition in the Bible. Indeed, it is to us a matter of amazement, that any enlightened, ingenuous, pious mind, should ever doubt, much less oppose, with obstinate vigor and pertinacity, as is frequently the case, a doctrine so Scriptural, harmonious, and deeply interesting to every real believer. Such being the fact, however, of its being strenuously denied and stoutly opposed, it becomes us, therefore, the more carefully to examine the foundation of a doctrine, the confirmation of which is so deeply interesting. Let us then, with cheerful confidence, and sanguine expectation, hear what the Scripture saith on the subject.
1. It is positively affirmed that, the Lord will not forsake his saints. This is the emphatic declaration of our text, which is fully corroborated by kindred and collateral passages, a few only sha
be adduced on each item of proof, as specimens; studiously avoiding prolixity by a te. dious, indefinite enumeration. In 1 Sam. 12:22, it is said, “The Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake.' Particularly, in Heb. 13:5, · He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' This short passage in the Greek contains five negatives. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a similar instance, in the same compass, in any language. And as Dr. Macknight very justly remarks,
The multitude of the negative particles, and their position in the original, render this passage exceedingly emphatical and beautiful.' Not only so, but we may add, they are fraught with undiminished plenitude of assurance, encouragement, and consolation. Literally rendered, they stand thus: “No, I will not leave thee; no, no, I will never forsake thee This blessed truth, when put into song, is frequently expressed with great pleasure and animation.
6. The soul that on Jesus hath lean’d for repose,
Better assurance, then, that God will not leave nor forsake his people, cannot be afforded. But here comes a vigorous opponent, a stranger to this source of consolation, and throws in a damper, by suggesting,
May not God's people forsake him? and if so, what then? To this the Lord himself shall answer: 'I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me:" Jer. 32:40. These words express the sentiment of our proposition handsomely, and support it unequivocally. While the opposite sentiment, conversely followed out in reference to the divine character and veracity, would be a violation of truth, a breach of covenant, a faithless dereliction of all the revealed grace and blood-sealed engagements of the gospel! There does appear to us tremendous embarrassment and fearful responsibility in the opposing sentiment. In its vindication it will require no common perspicacity and adroitness, to keep from conflicting with the throne of God and his revealed wisdom. We add once more; the conduct of the Most High, towards his erring children, is plainly set forth in the following passage, expressive of the same sentiment: • If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judg. ments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. Thus will God by this disciplinary course, correct his people for their aberrations, but never finally cast them off. By this wise and salutary conduct, his people are reclaimed, and finally saved, and no shade of imputation falls on the divine integrity, power, and goodness, from any breach of promise, covenant, and oath, which otherwise, would seem to be imputable, were he to forsake his people, and suffer them to fall a prey to sin and the devil, and finally go down to endless perdition.
2. Again: the Lord has expressly said, his saints shall not utterly or finally fall. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand:' Ps. 37:23, 24. Here the gist of our proposition is very plainly indicated again. None will refuse to allow a good man' to be a saint. But it is intimated that such an one may fall, yet not totally and finally. For it is affirmed most positively, that he shall not be UTTFRLY CAST DOWNhe shall not utterly, totally, finally, fall into perdition. A good man may fall through temptation, or infirmity, or lack of vigilance, deeply, disgracefully, deplorably. But he shall not fall to rise no more, as hypocrites do, as false professors and apostates do; because the Lord himself interposes and upholdeth him by his almighty power. So, ' A just man falleth seven times, (frequently, often,) and riseth up again,' by the same divine adjuvancy.
3. Our next direct testimony is, the declaration of Christ himself, respecting the eternal and imperishable state of his disciples: • I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish:' John 10:28. This declaration is emphatical and unequivocal; admitting of no addition, of no qualifying terms. Its confirmation is founded on his own and his Father's power: • Neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. And none shall be able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.' Here is omnipotent power engaged, employed, and concerned, for their preservation from all opposition and danger.
It is the united power and agency of the Father and the Son; for it is added, “I and my Father are one.' They are not only one in will and affection, in concord and consent; but they are likewise one in essence and nature; one in power and authority. The plain and powerful truth here advanced, is no less than this; that Christ the Son of God, is in nature, co-essential; in dignity, co-equal; and in duration, co-eternal with the Father, And thus, by the joint power, will, affection, and co-operation of both, the preservation and final salvation of all the saints--of all Christ's sheep, is as sure and certain as the Godhead itself. It seems as though