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inseparably connect salvation with the first exercise of grace. “When thou hast found” wisdom, [once,] "then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off." "For whoso concefindeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.” "Whosoever fonce drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." "He that cometh to me, [once] shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me, Conce,] shall never thirst.” “He that believeth Torces on the Son, hath everlasting life." "He that once] believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and SHALL NOT come into condemnation, but is PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE.” “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son and Conce] believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day." “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Among these promises may be reckoned those which absolutely secure to every believer growth in grace. “The righteous—shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.” “The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” “They go from strength to strength:blessed is the man whose strength is in thee.” “Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit.” Grace in the heart, as well as in the world at large, is compared to a little leaven gradually leavening the whole lump;—to a grain of mustard seed which grows up into the largest of herbs;-to seed which a man cast into the ground, which sprung up and grew night and day, he knew not how, bringing forth, “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”
“The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon." "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither.” “He shall be like a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green, and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Among these promises may be reckoned those which in particular cases assured good men of their final salvation long before their death. To Simon Peter it was said, “Whither I go thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” To the eleven, "I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also.” To the church in Sardis, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white for they are worthy.”
Such being the promises of the “everlasting covenant" both to Christ and the Church, it becomes a mark of God's covenant faithfulness to carry on the sanctification of his people to the end. “Who shall -confirm you unto the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ: GOD IS FAITHFUL by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son.There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but GOD IS FAITHFUL who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” “THE LORD IS FAITHFUL who shall establish you and keep you from evil. And WE HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THE LORD touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.” “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul
and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. FAITHFUL IS HE THAT CALLETH YOU, WHO ALSO WILL DO IT."
To impress us with a deeper sense of the stability of this covenant faithfulness, it is expressly founded on the unchangeableness of the divine nature: “I am the Lord, I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” On this basis rest of course the immutable love and purpose so often revealed in passages like these: "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." “As touching the election they are beloved for the fathers' sakes; for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."
In this unchanging faithfulness of God the most enlightened saints have always confided, for the completion both of their own salvation and that of others. For the completion of their own salvation; “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel,” said Asaph, "and afterwards receive me to glory.—My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever." "I know whom I have believed," said Paul, “and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.-The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom.--Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.”—For the completion of the salvation of others: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” said Paul to the Philippians; "BEING CONFIDENT OF THIS VERY THING, THAT HE WHICH HATH BEGUN A GOOD WORK IN YOU WILL PERFORM IT UNTIL THE DAY OF JESUS CHRIST." David had the same confidence in God respecting the salvation of all the saints: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord:—though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord
upholdeth him with his hand.” “The Lord-forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved forever.”
There are many passages, too numerous to be quoted, which assert the doctrine without so distinctly bringing into view the divine agency. For a specimen take the following: "A just man falleth seven times, [ever so often,) and riseth up again.” “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord;-his righteousness endureth forever.–Surely he shall not be moved forever.-His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.—His righteousness endureth forever; his horn shall be exalted with honour." "Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.”
If the saints may finally apostatize, what can be meant by the full assurance of hope" which all are exhorted to acquire? and by the "sure and steadfast" hope which rests on the covenant of God? Is it merely a hope that they may happen to be in a gracious state when they die? But this is the common hope of the wicked, who nevertheless are said to possess "no hope.” What less can it mean than that triumphant confidence, involving the certainty of persevering, which Job expressed when he said, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold and not another, though my reins be consumed within me."*
* Joh. xvii. 9. and xix. 25–27. Ps. i. 3. and xix. 9. and xxxvii. 23, 24, 28. and lxxiji. 24, 26. and lxxxiv. 5, 7, 11. and lxxxix. 3, 4, 19, 29–33. and xcii. 12, and cxii. 1, 3, 6, 7, 9. Prov. iv. 18. and viii. 35. and xxiv. 14. Jer. xvii. 8. and xxxi. 31-34. and xxxii. 38–40. Mal. iii. 6. Mat. x. 42. and xiii. 31–33. Mark iv. 26–29. Luke x. 42. John iii. 36. and iv. 14, and v. 24. and vi. 35, 40. and xiii. 1, 36. and xiv. 2, 3. and xv, 2, 16. and xvii. 1, 2, 9, 11, 15, 17, 20–24. Rom. vii. 4, 6. and viii. 1, 2, 14, 15, 17, 33_35. and xi. 28, 29. 1 Cor. i. 8, 9. and x. 13. Gal. i. 16, 17. and iv. 7. Eph. ii. 12. Phil. i. 3, 6. 1 Thes. v. 23, 24. 2 Thes, üi. 3, 4. 2 Tim. i. 12. and iv. 8, 18. Heb. vi. 11, 13–20. and viji. 6–13. and x. 1.2, 9, 10, 14-18. 1 Pet. i. 4,5. 1 John. ii. 27. and iii. 9. Rev. iii. 4.
It cannot however be denied that there are many passages of Scripture which warn Christians against apostacy, which urge the necessity of enduring to the end, and some which, taken by themselves, seem even to speak as though a truly righteous man might finally fall. These passages may all be reduced to two classes:
(1.) Those which press upon real Christians the necessity of enduring to the end. These, so far from proving that they may fall away, are the very means by which their perseverance is secured. This may be illustrated by an occurrence in Paul's voyage to Rome. The angel of the Lord had assured him that not one of the company should perish; and yet when the sailors were deserting the wreck, Paul said to the centurion, “Except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved."* It was certain that all the company would be preserved; and it was certain that the sailors would continue in the ship; and this threat was the very means by which the whole was secured. Now if you can find texts which peremptorily threaten real Christians with destruction in case of apostacy, they furnish an instance exactly parallel, and no more prove that real Christians will apostatize, than Paul's threat proved that the words of the angel would fail.
(2.) The other class speak of apostacy, not from real godliness, but from a profession, from external righteousness, or from a mere conviction of truth. Several of the strongest passages are expressly limited to some such meaning by their own context. Take for instance that memorable one in the sixth of Hebrews: "It is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gifts, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the