Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sinful men. The death of the cross, rather than any mere acts of righteousness, was the ground of justification. Christ died, the just for the unjust ; died as a substitute for sinners. But was his moral rectitude a substitute for that of sinners ? Did his obedience answer for the obedi. ence of sinners ? Or did he, by his obedience, atone for the disobedience of sinners ? Or, is there the least need of a Redeemer, for any purpose but to make an atonement for the sins of the world, and to prepare the way, by his own blood, for the pardon and salvation of the penitent, and all that embrace him by a living, and justifying faith ? The voluntary sufferings of Christ, in behalf of perishing sinners, afford a demonstration of his perfect holiness, and infinite benevolence. But his holiness and benevolence did not constitute an atonement for sin. By his benevolence and mercy, he was induced to offer his life in sacrifice to divine justice; and in this consisted the atonement, by which believers are justified.

4. The doctrine of justification by faith has a strong tendency to promote religion and morality. The doctrine of justification by works, cultivates a spirit of pride and boasting. But on the plan of justification by faith, and by free grace, boasting is excluded. When once the crucified Saviour is embraced, nothing remains as a ground of vain glorying. His examples are those of self-denial, and pure benevolence. His precepts, promises, threatenings, all tend to establish holy principles and practices; and to eradicate the seeds of vice and

iniquity from the heart. But above all ; the sufferings of Christ, to redeem us to God by his blood, are calculated to break the rocky heart, and to produce a humble and holy life. The christian faith, in its nature, is holy, and resembles the Spirit of Christ. It is a spirit of meekness, of love, of patience and forbearance; and especially is it a spirit of devotion—a spirit of prayer and praise. They who enter deeply, into the great doctrine of salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ; and yet continue to be immoral and profane; must be, to all intents, reprobates.

[ocr errors]

ESSAY XXI.
Perseverance.

ALL the doctrines of grace express or imply the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints to eternal life. Particularly is this implied in the doctrine of justification. And it is plainly declared, “Whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Justification by ić. as We have found, implies, not only the forgiveness of sin, but an unfailing title to eternal life. “Being justified by his race, we are made heirs, according to § hope of etermal life.” “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ:” an established, permanent peace. “There is therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” There is no more subjection to a state of sin and condemnation. This is the plain import of the doctrine of justification, through faithin the Îlord Jesus Christ. The doctrine of election, or predestination, equals proves the doctrine of perseverance. Who shall la any thing to the charge of God’s elect P Not but that they are chargeable with indwelling sin, and many external crimes, in this state of trial and temptation. But who shall justly charge them with apostacy from God P and from the christian faith P If we duly consider when, and for what purpose they are elected ; we shall, at one step, come to a demonstration of the doctrine of perseverance, But, in the scriptures, we read clearly, when, and for what purpose, they are elected. “According as he hath chosen us in him, 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, to the praise of the glory of his grace; wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” To christians it is said, “God hath, from the beginning, chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” From the beginning, as respects the purposes and exercises of the Divine mind, means the same as from etermity. For who that believes in the immutability of God, can imagine that he has any new purposes, or purposes formed in time It is therefore, evident, that God’s election of all those who ever become the subjects of his grace, is an eternal and immutable election. And for what purpose they are

chosen, we have already seen; “That they should be ho

ly :" That they should obtain salvation. Since it is evi-
dent, that salvation is by grace alone; since no man will,
of his own accord, come unto Christ, that he may have
life; it is reasonable to conclude, that whenever divine,
renewing grace is exercised, in the conversion of sinners,
it is, by the same grace, rendered effectual to their sal-
vation. Hence the Apostle, in his letter to the saints at
Philippi, expresses his confidence in this one thing, that
“he who had begun a good work in them, would per-
form it unto the day of #. Christ.” -
, If the perseverance of the saints depended on their own
strength and .# all would soon fall ..". to per-
dition. Unsupported by the special grace of God, not
even a patriarch or a prophet would ever have entered
into the kingdom of heaven. But, on the plan of divine
race, christians are said to be “kept, by the power of
od, through faith unto salvation.” If so, then how can
they fall away to final and eternal perdition P. Who can
pluck them out of the hands of Christ, or of his Father ?
if God’s purposes, and the exertions of his power may be
'frustrated here, in the infancy of our existence; why not
hereafter, in the eternal world P.And why do the elect an-
gels persevere P What security is there for the perpetuity
of the church on earth, or of the church in heaven P God
has absolutel }. promised to build up his church to all gene:
rations; so that no weapon that is formed againstit shall
prosper. He has promised, that a multitude which no man
can number, out of all nations shall be saved. But if the
perseverance of all individual saints be insecure; then

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

all are in danger of falling from grace; and even the whole church, consisting of individuals, is liable, in a very short time, to become utterly extinct. The consequence is, that all the rich and precious promises respecting the glorious MILLENIUM, are groundless, and hopeless. Set aside the doctrine of perseverance, and no hope remains of such a glorious period of the church, as the scriptures have so abundantly promised. Set aside the doctrine of perseverance, and not one of the divine promises, in the covenant of redemption, nor in the covenant of grace is secure. In the eternal covenant of redemption, God the Father has made rich and glorious promises to his Son. One is, that, in consequence of his humiliation, and sufferings for sin, as predicted in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah; “ He shall see his seed, see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” “Therefore,” saith the Father, “will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” In the second Psalm we read another promise of the Father to

the Son; “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of

Zion. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” Many and great are the promises to Christ in the eighty-ninth and other Psalms; and in the prophets. A specimen is this: “Once have I sworn in my holiness, that I will not lie, unto David; his seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me.” This is the true David, the Messiah, who richly merited the promises. But all these and an hundred more infinitely great and precious promises, will doubtless fail forever, should the doctrine of perseverance fail. Also the promises in the covenant of grace will be Fol. The covenant of grace is made between

od, even the Mediator, and all true believers. It was expressly said to be made between the Lord and Abraham. “ I will make my covenant between me and thee.” The substance of this covenant is, that true believers

have the promise of salvation. And the Lord also gives

recious intimations of saving mercy to the seed of the 'aithful. “I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee in their generations,” is the summary of the promises. All the rich and precious promises of this covenant, depend on the truth of the doctrine of perseverance, For, “’He only that endureth unto the end shall be saved.” We now proceed to a number of plain testimonies of scripture, to establish, more fully, the doctrine beforeus, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, “Though he fall, fe shall not be utterly cast down : For the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory.” These and many other things in the Psalms, are exactly in point. Through the imperfection of his heart, David fell into some great and crying sins. But he was, at no time, utterly cast down. At no time, did he cease to be a subject of inward, sanctifying grace. If he, who had been so wonderfully enlightened, and had tasted more, perhaps, than any other man, of the heavenly gift; had actually fallen away; it would surely, have been impossible to renew him again to repentance. But, of the repentance of David, and even of the most prompt and genuine repentance of David; who can entertain a doubt P After his grievous lapses, as well as before, he was the man after God’s own heart; and fulfilled his will. *

In the new testament, as well as the old, we have

ample evidence of the doctrine of perseverance. Relating to the covenant of redemption, the Saviour says, “ All that the Father hath given me, shall come unto me, and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” “And this is the Father's will, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing; but should raise it

at the last day.” The plain import is this, that of al who were given to Christ, in the covenant of redemption, as the reward of his sufferings, he should lose none; but should raise up the whole with him to eternal glory. Speaking of his followers, the Saviour adds this further

« AnteriorContinuar »