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glory and praise of God. Let it also be remembered, that there is no other way to make your calling and election sure. That faith which does not imply a good heart, or is not followed by a good life, is not the faith of God's elect. It is dead, like the body without the soul. It is no better than the faith of devils. The only faith in Christ whereby we can be. saved, is one which works by love, and leads to holiness in all manner of conversation. And in point of interest, how powerful are the motives set before christians, to works of faith and labors of love? For every good work, done from love to God and men, and in the exercise of faith in Christ, we are assured of receiving an eternal reward-an additional weight of glory. "Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
ON THE PRESERVATION AND PERSEVERANCE OF TRUE BELIEVERS IN CHRIST.
1 PETER I. 5.
Who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salva
PETER was called to the apostleship of the circumcision, as is observed by Paul; and his two epistles seem to have been chiefly designed for the converted Jews. James expressly inscribes his, "To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad." And this first of Peter is superscribed in a very similar manner: ver. i, "Peter, an apostle to the strangers scattered thoughout Pontus, Galatia, Capadocia, Asia, and Bethynia." They were thus dispersed, it is probable, by the persecution which began at Jerusalem soon after the ascension of Christ. The apostle begins his letter to them with a description of their character and state, and with the apostolic benediction: ver. 2, " Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." Then, to console them under present sufferings, and in their exile from the earthly
land of promise, he reminds them of the better country, even an heavenly, which they had in certain reversion: ver. 3, 4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." In our text, he then assures them, that as this glorious inheritance was reserved for them, so they were effectually secured from falling short of its final possession. Who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.
The doctrine of the saints' perseverance, like the other capital doctrines of the gospel, is taught, at sundry times, in divers manners of expression, that it might be more fully understood: and to this end, as well as for the sake of greater variety of method, it may be most useful, many times, to follow the particular phraseology of scripture. Accordingly, on this text, it is proposed,
To consider the state and character of those here said to be kept-From what, all such are keptHow they are kept-The certainty that they shall be thus kept; and the objections which have been supposed to lie against this doctrine, that any are so infallibly secured by divine power and grace.
I. It is proposed to consider, very briefly, the state and character of those who are here said to be kept unto salvation. And,
1. They are such, and such only, as have been renewed in the spirit of their minds.
The persons spoken of in our text, had been before described as being, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience." It is supposed by the apostle that they had been effectually called to holiness and
virtue; or, as another apostle expresses it, that they had been created unto good works. The election of particular persons to eternal life, is made evident to themselves and others, only by their begun sanctification, in effectual calling. Phil. i. 6, " Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." Before regeneration there is no ground for confidence, concerning any, that they will ever be saved. "Peradventure, God will give them repentance;" but, very possibly he may not. In this matter," he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy."
2. Those only of whom we have any certainty that they will be kept unto salvation, are true believers in Christ.
Heb. x. 39, "We are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." None but those who thus believe, are entitled to the promises of persevering grace. 2 Cor. i. 20, 21, 22, "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen, unto the glory of God. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, is God: Who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." And Eph. i. 13, "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." Persons may make a profession of the christian faith, and may have a strong conviction for a time that the gospel is true, and yet afterwards wholly apostatize, and become infidels. To believe to the saving of the soul, is to see the glory, as well as truth of the gospel, and cordially to embrace it: to embrace it, not only as true, but also as good. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." A hearty willingness to be saved from sin, and to be saved from wrath, and W w