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with your Maker, mortal man, you are altogether in his hands! If he but frown you die. In that condition I leave you,—with these words ringing in your ears, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.” O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me, in ME ALONE is thy help. Amen.
PERSEVERANCE OF SAINTS.
ROMANS vii. 30.
WHOM HE DID PREDESTINATE, THEM HE ALSO CALLED; AND WHOM HE CALLED, THEM HE ALSO JUSTIFIED; AND WHOM HE JUSTIFIED, THEM HE ALSO GLORIFIED.
AFTER what has been proved in former lectures in regard to election, the question respecting the perseverance of the saints is reduced to this; Are any regenerated besides the elect? For if none but the elect are regenerated, none of the regenerate can finally apostatize. I presume no good reason can be given why any should be "created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” who are not to be “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation;" -why any should be raised from the dead only to return to their graves. But our text puts this question to rest. Here we are plainly taught that all who are elected are effectually called; that all who are effectually called are justified; that all who are justified are glorified; therefore that the elect alone are regenerated, and that all who are regenerated are finally saved. The apostle introduces the subject by saying, “We know that all things work together for good, [for salvation, not for destruction,] to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, [as his own, not as being holy; for the predestination which followed appointed them to this character,] he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. 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.” The apostle then breaks forth into this triumphant language, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?-Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers 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.” Here you see joined in one chain four indissoluble links, viz. election, effectual calling, justification, and glorification. The elect only are effectually called, and all that are effectually called are glorified.
With this passage before us it becomes manifest that the doctrine of perseverance stands inseparably connected with that of election. If one has been established the other follows of course. And since the beginning of the world I know not that any one in his senses ever doubted of the perseverance of the saints, who believed in absolute personal election.
In another point of view the foregoing lectures have prepared the way for a ready belief of this article. They have made it apparent that in every step towards salvation God moves first and the creature afterwards,—that men advance just as far as they are propelled by divine power and no further. The most negligent go thus far because God is stronger than they; the most vigilant go no further, because in them, that is in their flesh, dwelleth no good thing. The difference between the slothful and the diligent is made entirely by divine influence. If then any of the 'regenerate apostatize, it is because God changes his conduct towards them and withdraws his influence. Now they who have maintained the hypothesis of falling from grace, have always told you that the Christian breaks away from God, not God from him,--that till we first forsake God he will never forsake us; thus placing in the creature the reason that the divine influence does not continue to be effectual. But the truth is, that influence does continue to be effectual as long as it is exerted, (as has been proved in former lectures;) and if the Christian apostatizes, it is because that influence first forsakes him. The old nature is so averse to the heavenly course that the best man will not advance a step further than he is propelled; and so far the worst will certainly go; for God's propelling hand, if it does any thing, overcomes the resistance and makes his people willing in the day of his power. As far as his sanctifying influence is exerted, it always produces this effect. None are willing further than God makes willing; all are willing thus far. If any cease to be willing and apostatize, it is because God ceases to make them willing. The change must commence on his part. No one, I believe, with this view of divine and human agency, ever doubted of the perseverance of the saints.
The question then really comes to this; does God, after changing the hearts of sinners, relinquish the work which he has begun? and that too as the first mover in this process of undoing, and without any special cause given him by the creature?
I say, without any special cause given him by the creature, for such a special cause presupposes the partial withdrawment of his influence. The best man sins just as far as God leaves him, and oppor.. tunity and motives occur; as far as God's sanctifying influence is exerted, the worst man is preserved from sin. Any special sinfulness in a Christian therefore presupposes the partial withdrawment of that influence. Does God then, as the first mover in this retrograde course, and unprovoked by any special offence, withdraw from a work which he has begun? This is the fair and precise statement of the question. Not whether he will keep us if we remain faithful, but whether he will continue to make us faithful. Not whether he will desert us if we provoke him, but whether he will suffer us to provoke him thus far. Not what his agency will be as consequent to ours, but what our agency will be as consequent to his. He began the work when there was nothing in the creature to induce him, but every thing to dissuade: will he discontinue the work when there is less to dissuade than at first? In a word, will he begin a work, uninduced by the creature; and uninduced by the creature, and even less provoked, will he desert it?
This question however cannot be decided by reason; it must be settled by revelation alone. Nor can it be determined by the general benevolence of God even as set forth in that revelation; for in that exhibition he sustains the character of One who has in fact withdrawn his influence and left perfectly holy beings to fall. No instance indeed is known, (if the case under consideration is not one,) of his having begun to sanctify sinners and withdrawn from the work. But after all the question wholly turns on what he has promised on the positive stipulations in his covenant with his Son and with his people. If he did in fact promise his Son