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powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.” This is probably the strongest passage to be found in the Bible. Now does this speak of real Christians? Certainly not; for to guard against such a construction it is immediately added, “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak; (we are persuaded that you are real Christians, and of course will not be suffered to apostatize;] FOR God is not UNRIGHTEOUS to forget your work and labour of love:” he is not so unfaithful to his promise as to suffer those who have given undoubted proofs of sincerity to perish. Take another instance from the 10th chapter of the same Epistle: "If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he, [Christ,] was sanctified an unholy thing, and have done despite unto the Spirit of grace.-The just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Now does all this prove that real Christians may aposta tize? Certainly not; for it is immediately added. “But WE ARE NOT OF THEM WHO DRAW BACK UNTO PERDITION, BUT OF THEM THAT BELIEVE TO THE SAVING OF THE SOUL."
But every question respecting the previous sanctification of apostates, is settled once for all by a single verse in the First Epistle of John. There were in those days heretics and profligates who had withdrawn from the communion of the Church. The question is, had any of them been real Christians? John tells you, in language applicable to apostates in every age, and that sweeps off all these objections at a stroke: “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 from us THAT THEY MIGHT BE MADE MANIFEST THAT THEY WERE NOT ALL OF us."* In other words, had they been real Christians they certainly would not have apostalized. This settles the previous character of all a postates to the end of the world. Whatever number of texts then you may find that speak of apostacy, it is now ascertained that the apostates never were sanctified.
It has been said that this doctrine tends to licentiousness. Though after showing that it is a doctrine of the Bible I am under no obligation to answer objections, I cannot refrain from saying that such a use can never be made of it by any but hypocrites. I appeal to a million witnesses that a holy heart feels no temptation thus to abuse this heavenly truth. I appeal to the history of the Church if the holiest of men have not believed it without becoming licentious,—if the principal part of the piety of past ages, especially since the Reformation, has not been connected with this belief. I appeal to that venerable saint whose aged eye daily looks towards heaven with "the full assurance of hope," and with full confidence in this blessed truth, whether his assurance checks his hungerings after righteousness, whether the perfect love” which “casteth out fear” is ready to return to sin—whether the spirit of adoption” which confidently cries, “Abba Father," is less purifying than the dread of the slave. I appeal to Paul on his throne, whether the full assurance of eternal glory prompts a wish to return to pollution, or abates the ardour of his love.
* 1 John. ii. 19.
Such an abuse of the doctrine is indeed chargeable upon hypocrites: and to guard them, (and all that is wicked in Christians,) against this abuse, those very warnings against apostacy were issued which you have brought forward to disprove the doctrine. Mark your inconsistency here. You say the doctrine tends to licentiousness; and as soon as the Bible issues warnings to guard it against this abuse and to silence this complaint, you fling those very warnings against the doctrine. What was done by the divine Spirit to protect it against your own objection, you convert into a new weapon of attack.
This subject, my Christian brethren, opens to view the astonishing grace of God, and traces back your salvation to its proper source, the counsels of the adorable Trinity. It shows you where your strength lies, and whence your hope springs. The Father, who eternally gave you to his Son, promised him to take the tenderest care of you for his sake, and to see himself to every part of your salvation. He promised him to suffer no real evil to befal you, to supply you with every needed good, and to make you the happier for every event. He promised him to defend you against every enemy, to suffer neither Satan nor your own heart to prevail against you, and to bear you in his arms to the heavenly rest. Your strength, your hope, your salvation, depend on counsels settled in heaven infinite years before you were born. As sure as God is faithful, everlasting ages of glory are before you. When you have shed a few more tears in a strange land, your feet shall stand on Mount Zion, and you shall sing to your golden harps the endless song of grace. Already you touch the sacred threshold. Why go ye mourning all the day? Is it for an heir of glory to be sad? Lift up your heads and rejoice in God your Saviour, and in the everlasting covenant. Throw away these comfortless hopes which you draw from yourselves, and behold in the infinite resources of the ever-blessed Trinity the origin and completion of your salvation. When you get home to glory, how will then appear a Father's care! how the everlasting covenant that drew you from the pit! Then will you begin the song of grace. While you cast your crowns at his feet, as everlasting ages roll, you will swell the song of grace. Let us even begin it here, and say, "Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."
THE SYSTEM CONFIRMED AND APPLIED.
GALATIANS i, 3, 9.
BUT THOUGH WE OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN PREACH ANY OTH
ER GOSPEL UNTO YOU THAN THAT WHICH WE HAVE PREACHED UNTO YOU, LET HIM BE ACCURSED. AS WE SAID BEFORE, SO SAY I NOW AGAIN, IF ANY MAN PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL UNTO YOU THAN THAT YE HAVE RECEIVED, LET HIM BE ACCURSED.
The truths which have been supported in this course of lectures, are far from constituting the whole Gospel. Besides the Trinity, the atonement, justification by faith, the retributions of eternity, and several other cardinal doctrines not taken up in the course, most of the precepts of the Bible, and all the invitations and promises, belong to the Gospel. But I have selected four articles of faith, viz. total depravity, regeneration, election, and perseverance, not only because they form an indissoluble chain, but because if these truths are believed and understood we shall not be likely to err in regard to the rest. As I passed along I touched also upon the means of grace and the powers of man, on account of their relation to the other topics; but the great hinges of the system, and what I had principally in view, were these four. To support these, I laid in