Page images
PDF
EPUB

one might as soon question the power, veracity, and Godhead of Christ himself, and his Father's too, as to doubt or deny the certain and eternal salvation of all real believers. Or, which is the same thing, maintain that any of Christ's sheep may be plucked out of his hand, and perish for ever. He has said, in the next chapter, verse 26, that the true believer— shall never die,' that is, an eternal death. And the confirmation of this rests upon a previous declaration, I am the resurrection and the life. This remarkable declaration of Christ respecting himself implies, that his divine nature, or the power of his Godhead, is the principal efficient cause of the resurrection. John 5:21; Phil. 3:20, 21. And that his own resurrection is the meritorious cause, the pattern, the pledge, the assurance of the believer's resurrection. When he declares, “ I am the life,' it means the author, the fountain of life, natural, spiritual, eternal. Truly might he say with the utmost confidence and certainty, whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, SHALL NEVER DIE.' Then immediately follows his tender appeal to Martha— Believest thou this? The sentiment we advocate unhesitatingly responds in the affirmative. But the opposite falters, hesitates, quibbles, and when urged up to the point, coldly answers, no; the living believer may yet die “ the second death,' and so be eternally lost!

4. The inspired confidence of holy men, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, further confirms our doctrine. Thus says the apostle Paul, Phil

. 1:6, “Being confident of this verything, that he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. This is very positive testimony. Here we have the nature of grace described—it is a good work.' The author is God, he that hath begun a good work in you. Its perpetuity and duration is strongly asserted, . Being confident of this very thing, that he-will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, that is, the day of judgment. A firmer and fuller assurance of the saints' perseverance in grace unto the end, need not be required than this. The same apostle, under the same divine guidance, animated with a view of the unchangeable and everlasting love of Christ, associated with the indissoluble and imperishable union to Christ of him that is joined unto the Lord,' gives utterance to his feelings in the following triumphant expressions; “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor power, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord:' Rom. 8:38, 39. No proposition can be more positively laid down than this. The amount of it is, that no creature in heaven, or in earth, or in hell, shall separate Christ and his real disciples. This is fully confirmed by the enumeration and induction of particular agents and things, supposed to wield the most powerful and dangerous influence; yet unable to separate the believer from the love of Christ; the permanency and duration of which, is confirmed upon a solid basis, namely, it is the love of God in Christ Jesus.' Here, if it be suggested, as has been done, “that the apostle did not mention sin in the catalogue, and therefore sin may separate,' &c; to this idle and sceptical cavilling, the apostle, without any interruption of his rapture, or diminution of his confidence replies, 'sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace:' Rom. 6:14. The apostle's assurance of the unchangeable love of God in Christ Jesus, receives additional confirmation, from the everlasting nature of holy love, which never faileth: 1 Cor. 13:8. Here we are taught, that this excellent grace of love, is of an abiding nature; never utterly lost out of the heart once imbued with it. It is imperishable aud abiding in this world, and will be perfected in all its lustre and glory in the world to

But if one soul, in whose heart this love once existed, is finally lost, then what becomes of Paul's firm persuasion of no separation between Christ and the believer, and the declaration that, love never faileth?'

come.

This we

5. The persons who are justified, and those who are glorified, being equả numerant, is another invincible proof of the proposition before us. have in express, unqualified terms: whom he justified, them he also glorified: Rom. 8:30. The natural and obvious meaning of these words is that precisely the same persons are included and recognised in each specification in the text_That the number of the glorified, is in exact accordance with the number justified. To suppose the contrary, is to conflict with the divine veracity, and contradict the unqualified declaration of the Holy Ghost by the mouth of the apostle. Yet strange and forbidding as it may appear, it is sometimes done. Hence we are told by a very learned and sagacious opposer of our doctrine,* in reference to this passage, that “equally contradictory to the Scripture is it so to explain St. Paul here, as to make him say, that all who are justified are also glorified.' And then, drawing his conclusion from his own premises, affirms that all persons justified are not infallibly glorified.' This is one way to get over this stubborn passage-by direct, baretaced contradiction. Another method employed to evade the force of this unequivocal testimony against a favorite tenet, is, to add a little to the apostle's words; thus, whom he justified-if they continue in his love-them he also glorified.'+ Such license with God's sacred word, is intolerable and reprehensible, and goes to show how far good men may be led to contradict their Maker and Sovereign, rather than relinquish their pre-conceived and long-cherished fictions. When it is said, Acts 13:48, and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,' it is not to be conceived, that the number in the one case, is either greater or less, than in the other. If the question be, how many were ordained to eternal life? The answer is, as many as believed. And conversely, if it be inquired. How many believed? The answer will be, ' as many as were ordained to eternal life.' Take another illustration. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the the ark'—'wherein eight souls were saved by water;'-—here let the proposition be in the following or like form: Whom God brought into the ark, them he also preserved. Or thus: As many as entered into the ark were also saved. So it is as certain, and plain, without contraction, or qualifying, or adding to the word of God, that · whom he justified, them he also glorified.'

6. The constant supervision, the holy vigilance, and protecting power of that hand from which none shall be able to pluck the sheep of Christ, and of that ever-wakeful eye that never slumbers nor sleeps, afford the most ample pledge for the security and certainty of their final salvation. Do the saints compose the spiritual - vineyard' of Jehovah? • I the Lord do keep it: I will water it every

moment; lest any hurt it, I will keep it day and night:' Isa. 27:3. Is it his holy Jerusalem, a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down?' 'Not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords_thereof be broken:' Jer. 33:20. Will God sift the house of Israel'-not. Israel after the flesh,' but the Israel of God'—the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit. Will God sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve?' He will: • Yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth:' Amos 9:9. Not one grain—even the least-shall perish-shall be lost or forgotten. Are the saints specially designated by the name of God's heritage?' They are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation,' even until the redemption of the purchased possession.' Is the name of Jehovah'—his unchangeable mercy, power, wisdom, righteousness, faithfulness, promise, and oath-the secure refuge and defence of his people? Yes, truly; for the name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe:' Prov. 18:10. And to

* Watson.

+ Wesley

make the eternal inheritance of the saints doubly sure, they have an oath for confirmation'-the infallible word and oath of the eternal Jehovah himself. • Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:' Heb. 6:17, 18. This is strong consolation, most assuredly. But if a single one of these heirs of promise' should be foiled, defeated, and finally lost, then what becomes of this refuge--this strong consolation-and the immutability of God himself-his counsel-his covenant-his promise-yea, his solemn oath? • Because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.' Who does not see the difficulty, absurdity, inconsistency, and contradiction of the opposing sentiment, when viewed in all its tendencies and conclusions. And is there not danger, too, of making it possible for God to lie,' by a scheme that sends the heirs of promise,' even the heirs of God, and the joint heirs with Christ'-down to eternal perdition! We see not how such a scheme can guaranty the final salvation of one of the heirs of promise. For if one of these · lively stones' of the spiritual house' (1 Pet. 2:5) may fall out, or be forcibly separated from the building, then not only is it mutilated, its symmetry and beauty destroyed, but the whole fabric itself is weakened, made liable to more successful assaults, and is in danger of total dilapidation

“And Satan may full victory boast;

The church may wholly fall;
If one believer may be lost,

Then, surely, so may all.'

7. The true delineation, and infallible description of the character of apostates, will go further to confirm our position. *At the final judgment, our Savior says, “ Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity:' Matt

. 7:22,23. Here is great disappointment, truly. Many will plead in vain their religious profession, gifts, attainments, and services. Christ will then openly disavow all knowledge, or approbation of them, as his disciples, or true followers. He knew them individually, as he knows all men; he knew them as hypocrites, or specious professors only. But as real disciples, as genuine sincere servants, he did not accept them: he never knew them.'. But could he say this, if among these high professors—and if not found here, where shall they be found—there were some who once had been true converts-born of the Spirit -passed from death unto life-joined unto the Lord, and one spirit-not under the law, but under grace and after all

, had lost their religious character, by total and final apostacy. Is it possible that Christ should say, I know my sheep,' and the Lord knoweth them that are his-his by the gift of his Father, by the purchase of his blood, by the grace of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and adoption--and yet say, 'I never knew you,' if once they were his? if once they were his sheep? if once they were justified by his blood,' and 'sanctified by the Holy Ghost?' No, it is not possible. Such a contradictionsuch an absurdity, can never be imputed to one who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. As for those who once made a fair appearance who seemed to run well--who made high professions--who done many wonderful things in the name of Christ, and afterwards wholly miscarried, and finally apostatized, we have the most plain, sensible, infallible account of them, by the apostle John: • They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if

they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us:' 1 John 2:19. Here we are fully assured, if they had been real Christians, • THEY WOULD NO DOUBT HAVE CONTINUED.' But as they were not, it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire:' 2 Pet. 2:22. Here apostates are compared to dogs and swine; the two most disgusting and loathsome emblems, which the whole animal race can suggest. Dogs that have disgorged their stomachs are dogs still; and swine washed are swine still. So it is with those who were washed with the water of baptism externally, yet were never internally renewed by the Holy Ghost, as Christ's sheep are. Like a swine, which, by washing, may be made clean, but not made cleanly; so it is with all unrenewed persons; their outward reformation, their baptismal washing, and every thing else in external Christianity, will never change the swine into a sheep. And then we need not wonder if temptation draw them to return to their vomit with the dog, and to the mire with the swine, and so draw back unto perdition.

8. The saints and angels in heaven believe in the certain salvation of all who are truly converted and born again. It is declared by Christ himself, * That joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth;' that, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.' In the conversion of a sinner, a monument is raised up to the glory of divine mercy and grace, which shall continue to all eternity. And when this blessed event takes place in our fallen world, doubtless, angels and the spirits of just men made perfect,' participate the joy of God our Savior when one sinner repents. But if there be no assurance of the final salvation of the repentant sinner, but rather a posssibility, or even a probability, that he shall yet be separated from Christ—that he shall not ultimately make one of their happy number, but that sin may regain its dominion, and Satan finally triumph over him; then, truly, is there no foundation for this celestial joy, it is all premature. All the harps of heaven should cease their symphony, and with chilling uncertainty and fearful suspense, await the issue at the termination of the convert's life, to see which shall finally triumph, God or the devil, heaven or hell. If this be not the tendency of the opposing sentiment, to arrest the joy at the conversion of sinners, both in the church above and below, making the end altogether uncertain, then we have greatly misunderstood its features, mistaken its form, and widely misconceived its general bearing and real tendency. The sentiment, moreover, in our estimation, places the disciples of Christ in exactly the same predicament, when he says them, · But rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.' If their preservation and final perseverance was not sure, how would this constitute a ground of rejoicing? What assurance have they, that their names shall continue written there? That they will not finally perish, and their names be erased from the book of life? But we have a more sure word to the contrary; Christ, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his:' even them, whose names were written in the book of life from the foundation of the world:' Rev. 17:8.

9. The apostolic reasoning based on the gracious conduct of God towards us in our old state of enmity, and that of our renewed state of friendship, affords another potent and confirming argument in favor of our proposition. • For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life:' Rom. 5:10. The pivot of the apostle's argument is this: If God did interpose on our behalf, if he did gratuitously devise a method to save us, at the expense of the blood of his Son, while we were in a state of rebellious enmity and hostility against him, and justly lying under his wrath and righteous displeasure; if he would, under such unfavorable circumstances, exercise his grace, wisdom, power, and goodness, to bring us into a state of reconciliation and friendship, through the redemption of his Son, much more where is the turning point much more, being reconciled now actual friends, and no longer enemies

shall we be saved by the living, and ever prevalent intercession of him that ever liveth to make intercession for us.' If God has so condescended to do for us the greater—the more expensive and weighty part of the work, while we were his enemies, deserving eternal damnation; much more, will he do the lesser for us, now we are become his friends; namely, preserving, perpetuating, and confirming his own good work-his own image in us, even unto the end.

10. Once more: Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? Who is he that condemneth?' Rom. 8:33, 34. In this passage, we have the justified believer's triumphant challenge, founded on the four eminent branches of the mediation of Jesus Christ; his death, resurrection, exaltation, and intercession. Christ diedis sisen again-is even at the right hand of God making continual intercession for us. The thought of a believer, in such

a strong tower' as this, being defeated, overcome by sin and Satan, and finally lost, is so revolting and forbidding-so dishonoring to God, impeaching his be nevolence, fidelity, and veracity, that we cannot, we are not cherish it for a single moment. It is God that justifieth.' This is his judicial act. He pardons and acquits every repentant believer in Christ Jesus. He says, “I will forgive his iniquity, I will remember his sin no more - none of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him.' So perfect, finished, and complete, is the pardoning and justifying act of the sovereign Judge, that it is well said in David, • As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us:' Ps. 103:12. The east and the west are two quarters of the world that are widest apart, and never can meet each other. A strong and beautiful figure, conveying the sentiment, that the pardoned believer, and his sins, are never more to meet again, for his condemnation.

But while at this point, let us state a case. Suppose this pardoned sinner walks with God as long as Enoch did, 'three hundred years;' and then enters the second time,' morally, into his mother's womb-into that same state, where he was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did his mother conceive him." Or in other words, he is totally fallen from grace. In his apostate state he lives one year, and then dies unconverted, and goes to judgment. Shall sentence there pass against him for the sins of his life before conversion? That cannot be; for they were once all blotted out,' all forgiven, and separated from him as far as the east is from the west. To say they were pardoned conditionally, is absurd; for that were no pardon--no justification at all. How can any thing, to use the symbol the Holy Ghost useth-be actually .blotted out- conditionally? When the east and the west can come together, then may the pardoned sinner, and his sins which were blotted out, come together again. If then he be condemned at all, it must be for the last year of his life the year he lived an apostate. But now apply the rule of judgment according to his works.' How does he receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done?' Where is the award for his three hundred years of evangelical righteousness! Shall three hundred years of approbatory conduct, in which he pleased God,' be overbalanced by one single year of misdeeds? How can such an one be a proper subject of God's moral administration, and righteous judgment at all

. The sentiment adverse to our proposition is inconsistent, perplexing, and attended with insuperable difficulties. How to manage it without arraying it in conflict against the divine character and government of God-against his wisdom, power, goodness, and veracity, is inconceivable.

« PreviousContinue »