Imatges de pÓgina

are called, chosen, and faithful. Thus, Luke xviii. 7, Christ, speaking of his followers, says, And shall not God avenge his own elect, or chosen? Thus St. Paul, Rom. viii. 33, Who shall lay any thing o the charge of God's elect? Thus St. Peter, in his first Epistle, chap. 2d, and verse 9th, Ye are a chosen generation: and thus, hroughout the Scriptures.

It is to be remembered, that this appellation is given to Chrisians universally. In the passages, already quoted, it is plain, that 'he names elect and chosen, which, you know, are the same in the Greek, are equivalent to Saints or Christians; and accordingly are addressed to them without distinction. The same observation is, with the same truth, applicable to the numerous passages of Scripture, in which this language is adopted.

Of all these persons it is often said, that they were chosen from the beginning; or from before the foundation of the world. Thus St. Paul, 2 Thess. ii. 13, addressing the members of that Church, says, God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth. Thus also, Eph. i. 4, the same Apostle, addressing the Christians at Ephesus, says, According as he hath chosen us in him; that is, Christ; before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love; Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. From these passages, and from many others of similar import, it is clear, that Christians are chosen by God unto salvation from the beginning; or from before the foundation of the world. But can it be supposed, that a purpose of God, thus formed, will be frustrated? As this is declared of Christians, as such; it is evident, that it is alike applicable to all Christians. If, therefore, any Christian ceases to be holy; this purpose of God, solemnly adopted, and declared, will in one instance be frustrated; and in every instance, in which this event takes place. Thus far, then, God will be finally disappointed of one end of his government, really proposed by him, and expressly announced to the Universe. Who can believe this concerning the Creator?

3dly. If Christians continue not in holiness unto the end, the Intercession of Christ will be frustrated.

In John xvii. 20, Christ, after having prayed for his Apostles, says, verse 20th, Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also, who shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee: that they also may be one in us. In this petition, Christ prays the Father, that all those, who should believe on him through the word of the Apostles; that is, all Christians; may become partakers of that divine union, which, in the heavens, is the most perfect created resemblance of the ineffable union of the Father and the Son. If, then, any Christian fails of sharing in this union, the prayer of Christ, here recited, will not be answered.

4thly. If the holiness of Christians does not continue unto the end, the joy of Heaven over their conversion is groundless, and in


Our Saviour informs us, that there is joy over one, that is, over every, sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, who need no repentance. No error exists in heaven. All the perceptions of its inhabitants are accordant with truth: all their emotions are founded in truth. The joy, excited there by the continuance of ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance, (that is, persons perfectly just) in their holiness, is a joy, founded on the everlasting holiness of these persons, and the everlasting happiness, by which it is inseparably attended. The joy, excited by the repentance of a sinner, is, however, greater than even this. As this is unconditionally asserted by Christ; it is unnecessary for me, in the present case, to inquire into the reasons of the fact. But a joy, excited by the repentance of a sinner, whose everlasting holiness, and consequent everlasting happiness, is uncertain; nay, who may never be holy, nor happy, at all, beyond the first and feeblest efforts and enjoyments of a Christian in his infantine state; cannot be founded in truth, nor dictated by wisdom. Nay, it cannot be accordant with common sense. Upon the plan here adopted, the object, on which this joy is founded, although a penitent to-day, may be a reprobate to-morrow; may thus finally lose both his holiness and his happiness; and, becoming a more guilty, may of course become a more miserable wretch, than if he had never repented. In this case, there would be, upon the whole, no foundation for joy at all; and the inhabitants of heaven would, in many instances, instead of rejoicing rationally, and on solid grounds, be merely tantalized by the expectation of good, which they were never to realize.

What, in this case, would be the conduct of rational men in the present world? We have instances enough of their conduct, in cases substantially of a similar nature, to furnish us with an unerring answer to this question. They would, as in all cases of such uncertainty they actually do, indulge a timorous, trembling hope, that the case might end well; that the penitent might persevere, and finally become safe. They would experience a degree of satisfaction, that this first step had been taken, because it was indispensable to the rest, and would feel a continual, anxious suspense, lest others, equally indispensable, should not follow. What wise and good men in this world would feel on such an occasion, wiser and better men in the world to come must of necessity also feel; and feel much more intensely; because they comprehend the subject in a manner so much clearer, juster, and more perfect. Of course their suspense, their anxiety, must exist in a far higher degree. Such a suspense, such an anxiety, must, one would think, embitter even the happiness of heaven.

Frustrated expectations of great good, also, are, in this world, sources of extreme sorrow. The same fact must in that bencvolent world be a source of the same sorrow. But how often, according to this scheme, must such expectations be there frustrated! Can this be reconcilable with a state of unmingled happiness?

5thly. That the holiness of Christians should not continue to the end, is inconsistent with many Scriptural declarations.

We know, saith St. John, that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. 1 John iii. 14. It is impossible for any person to know, that he has passed from death unto life, unless he has actually thus passed. But St. John declares, that himself, and such other Christians as love the brethren, have this knowledge; or, perhaps more conformably with the Apostle's real design, all Christians know this, who know, that they love the brethren. The love of the brethren is certain, absolute proof, that all those, in whom it exists, have passed from death unto life. And this proof exists, whether perceived by him, who is the subject of this love, or not perceived. But every Christian loves the brethren; and that, from the moment in which he becomes a Christian. Every Christian, therefore, has actually passed from death unto life. This, however, cannot be true, unless every Christian perseveres in holiness unto the end. Every Christian does, therefore, persevere.

Being confident, says St. Paul, of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. The word here rendered perform, signifies to finish, or complete. St. Paul was confident, therefore, that the Spirit of God, who had begun a good work, viz. the work of sanctification, in the Philippian Christians, would continue to complete it by various steps, until it was brought to perfection. But St. Paul, under the influence of inspiration, could not mistake concerning this subject. His confidence was founded in truth. The work, begun in the Philippian Christians, was completed. Of course it will be completed in all other Christians.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, says our Saviour, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is (hath) passed from death unto life. John v. 24. In this passage it is declared, that he that heareth the word of Christ, and believeth on him, by whom he was sent, has passed from death unto life. What is meant by this phrase is also decisively explained, when it is said, "Every such person hath everlasting life;" and when it is further said, "He shall not come into condemnation." But every Christian, when he becomes a Christian, hears the words of Christ, and believes on him that sent him. Therefore every Christian has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but has already passed from death unto life.

Declarations of the same import abound in the Scriptures. It cannot be necessary to multiply quotations any farther. If these are not believed, none will be believed.

6thly. The doctrine, against which I contend, is inconsistent with many Scriptural promises.

Such a promise is contained in the passage last recited. He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, shall not come into condemnation.

Another is contained in the following words, John vi. 37, Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out. Every Christian has come to Christ, in the very sense of this passage. Should he, then, be rejected afterward, he would be as really cast out, as if rejected at first; and the promise would not be performed.

Another example of the same nature is found in Mark xvi. 16, He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved. Every Christian has believed: every Christian will therefore be saved.

Another is found in John x. 27, 28, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.

Another in the 9th verse of the same chapter: I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.

All these are promises, uttered by Christ himself; and it will not be denied, that he understood the import of his own promise, nor that he will faithfully perform it to the uttermost.

Finally; St. Paul has declared his views concerning this subject in a manner, which one would expect to terminate the controversy. Moreover, says this Apostle, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he Justified, them he also glorified. This is both a declaration, and a promise; and in both respects is unconditional and universal. In the most express language it asserts, that every one, who is effectu ally called, is justified, and will in the end be glorified also. Bu every Christian is thus called.

I shall now proceed to consider the principal objections against the perseverance of Christians.

1st. It is objected, that this doctrine is inconsistent with Free agency.

This objection, as to its real import, I have had occasion to consider in several preceding discourses. If the answers, made to it then, were just and sufficient; they must admit of a satisfactory application to this subject. The drift of the objection in every case is against the doctrine, that God can create a free agent, who shall yet be a holy being. If he can create such an agent, and make him holy from the beginning; he can, undoubtedly, with equal ease, and equal consistency, render such an agent holy after he is created. But it cannot be Scripturally denied, that our first parents, or the angels, were created holy; nor that the man, Jesus



Christ, was created holy. Nor can it be denied, that all these were in the fullest sense free agents. The very acknowledgment, that they were holy, is an acknowledgment, that they were free agents; for holiness is an attribute of free agents only. It is certain then, that God can render such agents holy, at any time after they are created, without infringing at all the freedom of their agency. In other words, he can regenerate them; can sanctify them afterwards, at successive periods; and can, of course, continually increase their holiness to the end of their lives.

Further; Angels, and glorified Saints, will persevere in holiness throughout eternity; and their perseverance is rendered absolutely certain by the unchangeable promise of God. Yet neither this perseverance, nor the certainty of it, will at all diminish the freedom of their agency. The perseverance of Saints in this world may, therefore, exist to the end of life, and may be absolutely certain, without any diminution of the freedom of their agency.

2dly. It is alleged, that the Scriptures promise eternal life to Christians conditionally; and that this is inconsistent with the supposition, that every Christian will certainly persevere in holiness. For example; He, that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved and again; For we are made partakers with Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.

There are many passages of this nature in the New Testament. As the import of them all is exactly the same, it will be unnecessary to quote any more. Their universal tenour, whether given in the form of promises, cautions, exhortations, or commands, is this that eternal life will not be allotted to any of mankind, except those who continue in obedience unto the end. Hence it is argued, that a discrimination is here intentionally made between such Christians as do, and such as do not, thus continue in their obedience. Otherwise, it is observed, the condition would be useless, and without any foundation in fact.

To this I answer, first, that a conditional promise, collateral to an absolute one, can never affect, much less make void, the absolute promise. The promises, which I have recited, of eternal life to every Christian, are all absolute; as are also many others, of the same nature. They cannot, therefore, be made void by these conditional ones.

Secondly; it is still true, that none, but those who endure to the end, will be saved; and equally true, that every Christian will endure to the end.

It is elsewhere said in the Scriptures, that, if we do not believe, we shall be damned; that, if we do not repent, we shall perish; that if we do not love the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be anathema; that without holiness no man shall see the Lord; that he who hateth his brother abideth in death; and that without love we are nothing. From these passages it might with the same force be concluded, that some persons believe, who do not repent; that some repent,

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