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mere external union is intended. per, his salvation is secure, On the whole, I am compelled to though it were the first exercise believe, that being in Christ, of the kind he ever put forth. means a vital union with him. But the question is, whether, a The remaining question, there. person possessed of such a temfore, and that which involves the
per, may not, in fact, be divested difficulty, is, whether the text of it? and whether the language imply, that it is possible for such of St. Paul, in the place referred to fall away?
to, do not countenance such an 2. St. Paul, I Cor. ix. 27, as opinion? signs, as the reason of his care 3. That text, Heb, x. 38, Now and solicitude in subduing the the just shall live by faith ; but if vicious propensities of his body, any man draw back, my soul shall that having preached to others, he have no pleasure in him. This I might not himself prove a cast-a. am altogether unable to under way. But if the doctrine, we are stand in consistency with this considering, be true, does he not doctrine. assign that as a reason, which 4. Matt. xxiv. 12 and 13. Be, could not be the true reason? cause iniquity shall abound, the love We are not at liberty, I appre of many shall war cold: but he hend, to suppose, that St. Paul that endureth to the end, the same was uncertain whether he were shall be saved. How could their the subject of gospel grace. But love be said to war cold, who if he were certain of this, then, if never had any ? as most certainly the doctrine of perseverance be none but renewed souls ever had. true, he was certain that he Besides, no distinction is intimatshould not prove a cast-away, ed, as to its nature, between the How then could he assign the love of the one class, and that of fear of what, he certainly knew, the other ; but only in regard to would never take place, as the its continuance. Does it not seem, motive of his constant care and therefore, that reference is here vigilance in the government of made to those, who were indeed his appetites and passions ? Be the sincere disciples of Christ? sides, it is intimated by the apos. If so, what is meant by the love tle, that his final salvation was of such being said to war cold? suspended on the condition of his Is it not something, the effect of subduing his sinful inclinations, which will be their loss of salva: or bringing his body into, subtion? For, in its effects, it is dijection. Does not this weaken rectly opposed to that enduring, the conclusion of those who ar. to which salvation is promised. gue the final perseverance of 5. Some passages occur, in saints from the nature of holi- Ezek. xviii. and xxii, in which I ness; a single exercise of which, meet with very formidable dis they say, gives an infallible tille ficulties. These are so appar. to everlasting salvation ? But if ent to all, who peruse the con: final salvation is suspended on texts, that it is needless to point the condition mentioned above, them out. this reasoning is inconclusive. 6. Heb. vi. 4-6. For it is ina It is not doubted that if a person possible for those who were once die in the exercise of a holy tem- enlightened, and have tasied of the
heavenly gift, and were made par- the existence of a holy principle lakers of the Holy Ghost, and have in his heart ? tasted the good word of God, Thus I have endeavoured, and the powers of the world 10 as clearly and concisely as come ; if they shall fall away, to possible, to state the difficulties, renew them again to repentance ; of greatest weight, in my mind, seeing they crucify to themselves respecting the doctrine of final the Son of God afresh, and fut perseverance. To discover the him to an open shame. Respect- truth is, I hope, my only object. ing this passage, I would pro- Should you deem' it consistent pose these questions : Do the with the purposes of your unterms here used, necessarily im- dertaking, I request you to give ply, that those, to whom they these queries a place in the were applied, were regenerate Panoplist; in order that some persons? If so, do they contem- writer may have an opportunity plate the event spoken of, (the to attend to the difficulties propodefection of such) as possible ; or sed ; and to gratify me and the only affirm what would be their sit- public with such remarks as may uation, should such an event take appear to him pertinent and proplace ? If the latter, where is the per.
J. C. force and propriety of the apostle's admonition? This must be the amount of his observations ; “I STATEMENT OF DIFFICULTIES. exhort you to diligence and assi- It cannot be urged as any obduity in studying the principles jection against the doctrine of of our holy religion, and to pro- the saints' perseverance, that gress in the knowledge of its hypocritical pretenders to relisublime, and glorious truths; gion have openly forsaken the and I sanction my exhortation cause of truth. Nor can it be with this alarming consideration, considered any proof of their real viz. That if you fail to do this, saintship, that, while they mainand thus for want of being rooted tained the appearance of religion, and grounded in the truth, suffer God in his word and providence yourselves to be shaken from treated them, as saints. Both your stedfastness,, and moved in his word and providence God from your faith in the gospel, it conducts towards men according will be impossible to recover you; to their visible character. He though at the same time, you does not expose them, except by very well know, that it is abso- giving them opportunity to exluiely certain this never will hap- pose themselves. Thus Judas, pen.
Simon Magus, and others have 7. With regard to the example been treated. The apostasy of of David I request an answer to such persons means no more, the two following questions : than a visible apostasy, or a fallWas David in a state of favour ing away from their standing in and acceptance with God previ- the visible church; which, in ously to his sin, in the matter of fact, implies no real alteration in Uriah? If so, were his flagrant, them, but only a manifestation and abominable crimes, of adulo of their true character. Such is iery and murder, compatible with the sentiment contained in the
apostle's words ; 1 John ii. 19. cy of God, which secure the final They went out from us, but they perseve
verance of all his chosen peowere not of us ; for if they had ple, are not in the least degree been of us, they would no doubt inconsistent with their moral agen, have continued with us ; but they cy. Innumerable examples went out, that they might be made might be produced, in which manifest that they were not all of God's purpose, promise, and
But while there are some, agency conspired 10 render an that is, false professors, who event certain ; and yet those, actually draw back to perdition ; who were concerned in its ac, there are others, that is, real complishment, were as free and saints, who do not. Thus the voluntary, as they could have apostle, speaking of real believ- been upon any supposition what. ers, says; we are not of them,
I might mention the who draw back to perdition, but death of Jesus, which was deof them who believe to the saving terinined before the foundation of the soul. Here the distince of the world, and was rendered tion is evidently marked between certain to the church by the those who are saints in reality, promise of God. Notwithstand, and those who are saints merely ing this, Jesus was perfectly un in appearance. Now whatever constrained in laying down his passages of scripture are design- life, and the murderous Jews ed to characterize false profes. were no less free and voluntary sors, have nothing to do with the in taking it from him. The subject before us.
same might be asserted of the It is granted, that most of the return of the Jews from the passages, which J. C. urges Babylonian captivity, of the con, against the doctrine of persever. version of the Gentiles, and of a ance, and other similar passages,
thousand other events. are descriptive of real Christians. Now if the purpose, the prom. The construction, which has of- ise, and the agency of God, ren, ten been put upon Heb. vi. 4,5, ap- dering the salvation of all believ. pears not well supported. There ers certain, leave them in the is scarcely in the Bible a higher unimpaired possession of their description of the regenerate.
moral freedom ; it is evidently In compliance with the re- suitable to address them, as free, quest of J. C. it is my design to
But in what offer what assistance I am able, manner is it suitable to address to the candid and inquisitive, in moral agents, who are probation, discerning the consistence be- ers for eternity, in order to per: tween the passages, which he suade them to virtuous conduct? quotes, and the gospel doctrine Infinite wisdom teaches, that it of the saints' perseverance. It is suitable to address them with must be remembered, that long motives ; to set life and death and minute investigation is not before them; to hold up the compatible with the brevity mercies and the terrors of the which is necessary in this reply. Lord. Thus has God dealt with
I desire it may be considered, mankind in all ages ; and what in the first place, that the gra- he has done is confessedly just, ciowe purpose, promise, and agere because mankind are intelligent creatures, or moral agents, capa. their apostasy, is unmeaning and ble of being influenced by ration- futile. If by the certainty of sal. al considerations. Have not the vation be meant its certainty in saints as much moral freedom, the diyine mind, it can have no or rational agency, as others ? conceivable effect on the actionsWhy, then, is it not proper to of believers. If certainty in the address to them the same mo- mind of believers be intended; I tives? Why shall not they, as observe, that believers in their well as others, have the advan- best state are never more certain tage of seeing life and death pla- of their salvation, than they are ced before them? Why shall of the absolute necessity of they not be guarded against persevering faith in order to apostasy by divine threats, as salvation, and of their unavoidawell as excited to unfailing dili- ble ruin, if they forsake the way gence by great and precious of holiness. If we can say to promises? Will any one say, believers; we are persuaded that this is improper, if the doctrine God will give you the victory, and of the saints' perseverance is that nothing shull be able to sepa. true? Does the truth of that doc- rate you from his love ; we may trine take away the moral agen- with equal propriety say; youe cy of Christians? Are they any must continue to the end, or you the less free and voluntary, be- cannot be saved. Be sober, be cause there is a promise, that vigilant. Set a strong guard those who sustain the Christian against the first step to apostasy. character shall be saved ? Do For if you dratu back, God's soul they cease to be rational crea- will have no pleasure in you. Is tures, because, through the grace the propriety of such an address of God, they are believers ? If to Christians doubted? To il. they are still rational, moral lustrate this point by a well agents, they may be influenced known scripture fact, let me ask, by the promises and threats of whether it was consistent for the gospel Indeed it is true Paul to say of some, who were religion, which gives those ready to leave the ship; “expromises and threats their pro- cept these abide in the ship, ye per influence. When it is de- cannot be saved,” when he had clared, that unfailing goodness certain information from an inshall be rewarded with the ever- fallible source, that none of them lasting enjoyment of God, and should be lost in the wreck? that backsliding and impenitence According to the common course shall be punished with his ever- of Providence, suitable means lasting wrath ; believers are ef- are absolutely necessary to acfectually roused to pious caution complish events, which are diand diligence. Shall motives be vinely predicted, and so renderconcealed from persons, as sooned certain by unchangeable peras they are disposed to be proper- fection. Now if proper means ly influenced by them?
must be employed by rational But it is still urged, that, if creatures in order to accomplisha the salvation of believers is cer- events, which are made certain tain, to threaten them with the by the purpose and promise of boss of salvation on supposition of God; then why is it not prqperi to urge that necessity, as a mo- falling from grace, the language tive to the use of means ? The of inspiration would appear very doctrine of perseverance ought incorrect. That such an event never to be viewed in such a is, in some sense, possible, is the light as to render persevering plain, direct implication of many diligence in well doing less Scriptures. Without supposing necessary for Christians, than it that good men have natural pow. would be upon supposition that er to fall froin grace, we cannot the doctrine were not true. Evo consider them in a probationary ery motive to pious activity, state ; for that state must imply which can be derived from the that life and death are set before law and the gospel, retains its them, and that their choice and full force, and ought to be ex corresponding practice will dehibited to believers to influence termine their future condition. their conduct.
If the certainty of the saints' fiHaving made these general nal perseverance implies, that remarks, we proceed to notice they have not, in any sense, power particular parts of J. C.'s com- to fall away ; then, the certainty munication.
of any event makes it utterly imAfter a long and ingenious at- possible, that the contrary event tempt to prove that the passage should take place. According in John xv. 2, is applicable to to this false reasoning, it is utthose, who have a vital union terly impossible, in every sense, with Christ, he states this as the that those sinners, who will fis question, which involves the nally perish, should repent ; for great difficulty ; Whether it is their perdition is a certainty in implied in the passage, that it is the mind of God. Whereas it possible for such to fall away? will be one part of the misery of They, who have carefully at- sioners bereafter, that they tended to the distinction, which might have been saved, but misPresident Edwards and others, improved their opportunity. before and after him, have made Let this be well considered ; between natural and moral pow. viz. that believers being in a er, possibility, necessity, &c. state of probation and having natneed not be embarrassed with ural power to apostatize from the difficulty here supposed. the faith of the gospel, as well Upon the ground of that distinc- as to persevere in it, is not in the tion, it is readily conceded, that least degree incompatible with the final apostasy of good men is the certainty of their final pernaturally possible. Considered severance ; because that certainas rational, voluntary agents, ty rests wholly on a cause, which they are liable to fall away. does not impair their natural Their natural powers render power or moral agency, but them as capable of forsaking the leaves them fully possessed of way of holiness, as of persever. all that belongs to rational, free, ing in it. It is not their want of dependent beings. natural power to continue in sin, Paul's words, 1 Cor. ix. 97, that secures their perseverance are remarkable. TO J. C. it an. in religion. Were there no pears, that, admitting the doc. possibility, in any sense, of their trine of the saints' perseverance,