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gospel, is necessary in order to the salvation of iets. « He that endureth to the end shall be saved. To them who, by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and obey not the truth-indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish ;' in the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”
Thus I have attempted what was proposed. With respect to what is implied in, or prerequisite to, our being established, and continuing steadfast and unshaken in the faith, it has been observed, that we must submit to the word of God, as the standard for the trial of every doctrine—that we must be thoroughly acquainted with that standard that we must be acquainted, not only generally with the scriptures, but particularly with the several parts of that system of doctrines which they contain that we must, as much as possible, avoid men of corrupt minds, not sound in the faith, whose object is to bring down the word of God to their erroneous feelings and waysLastly, and very especially, that the heart must be established with grace ; implying a readiness to receive the truth in love.
The truth of the doctrine, and importance of the duty, we have argued—From the express command of God and from the considerations, that this is one principal end for which the scriptures and a preached gospel were given that a compliance is the Christian's excellency and honor--that it is necessary to growth in grace, and to any comfort in religion ; and that to receive and abide in the truth is absolutely requisite in order to final salvation.
1. We infer from this subject, that being unstable, doubtful, or erroneous, respecting the great doctrines of the gospel, is a very strong evidence that a man has no grace; or that his heart is not right with God.
John vii. 17. “ If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or wlrether I speak of myself.”
2. We may hence learn not to wonder, that there are so many who are carried away with false prophets, who are zealously propagating very erroneous opinions. Nothing less can be expected, concerning such as make not the word of God their study, and their standard ; but instead of it, set up their own reason, blinded by corrupt passions, or the fallible opinions of men, as their guide in religious matters ; concerning such as associate with those who are devoted to infidelity, or to loose principles-or concerning any who are under the dominion of a wicked heart.
3. Let us hence learn to make the word of God the rule of our faith and practice. Let us endeavor rightly to understarid the holy scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation. Let us earnestly seek to God for the guidance of his good Spirit ; and for an honest and good heart, to disrelish error, and love the truth. Let it be
labor and care, my brethren, to attain these things. To assist you in this, is one great object of all my public labors and discourses ; but with a more particular view to this, I purpose, by divine leave, to address to you a series of sermons upon sone of the leading doctrines of scripture, in their connection ; and hope to enter upon them the next Lord's day. I ask your prayers for divine light and teaching; and that we may all receive the knowledge and love of the truth, that we may be saved. Amen.
2 CORINTHIANS XIII. 5.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith ; prove
your own selves : know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?
O be in the faith, is to be the subjects of a true faith in Christ, or a principle of true religion. And it is important, my brethren, that we should be possessed of this principle, and that we have a knowledge of it: for whatever our hopes and professions may be, if we are not in the faith, or which is the same thing, if Christ be not in us; i. e. by his Spirit ; or formed in us, we are in the language of the text, reprobates ; i. e. counterfeit, adulterate, or unsound • and insincere Christians : mere professors, who are not owned or accepted of God.
The term reprobate, and the phrases, cxamine yourselves, and prove your own selves, are figurative, taken from the practice of goldsmiths, who try and
* Delivered at a lecture prepara:ory to the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, August 2, 1804.
prove the gold presented to them; the weight of it by the scale, and the purity of it by the fire. And as reprobate metals are of no 'value, so professing Christians, who have not the grace of faith in them, more precious than gold that is tried, are unapprov. ed of God, and rejected.
One expositor supposes, that the term refiobate implies the same thing as castaway, as the word in one place is rendered ; or being given over to judicial blindness. And the remark, and the application he makes of it, are in the following words : “ The apostle here useth a very close argument, to put them upon a scarch into their own hearts and states, to see if they could find Christ dwelling in them; for otherwise, considering their long profession, and the revelation of Christ to them) it would be a ground of fear, that they were such as God had cast off for ev
However as to their firesent state, they had no ground to conclude better, whatever mercy God might afterwards show them. Men's sitting and continuing so long under the means of grace, and an outward profession, without a saving knowledge of Christ, is not indeed an infallible sign that he, who formed them, will never show them any favor ; but there is very great presumption, that it will be so with
such.” And to such a general application of the phrase, I have no objection. For while it is true, as I have stated, that as reprobate metals are of no val. ue, so professing Christians, who have not the grace of faitli, are worthless, and are at present unapproved of God, and rejected. It is also true, that there is great reason to fear of such, far greater than of most others, that they will never be the subjects of mercy, but will be left to a reprobate mind, or judicial blindness, and perish'; and that, not only because the sins of such are peculiarly aggravated, but because it appears from fact, to be very rare, that persons, who once settle down upon a fulse hope, are ever brought off from it.