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gives them this warning in particular: “ Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief."* Of what crimes, then, may the saints be guilty? How necessary is it for him “ who thinketh he standeth, to take heed lest he fall."
The apostle says, “ Baptism doth now save us, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ;”+ and speaks of the virtue of that baptism as consisting “in the answer of a good conscience.” Mr. Burder gave us a different account. The privileges granted to believers are mentioned as including “ exceeding great and precious promises, that by these they might be partakers of the divine nature.” I But what is the inference ? No vain confidence in their regenerate state; no “ leaning by direct acts of faith upon the person and righteousness of the mediator;" § no assurance of an unconditional and indefectible title to salvation. Instead of this an earnest persuasion to the practice of all virtue, which“ he that lacketh is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather brethren give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things ye shall never fall : for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly, into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. /l”.
I 2 Ep. i. 4.
* iv. 15.
+ iii. 21. $ Hawker's Union with Christ, p. 58. lll 2 Ep. i. 9, 10, 11.
The spirit which breathes in these épistles, will fully establish what was briefly intimated before, that we have something more to do when we are born again, than to “ survey the wondrous gift,” and say with complacent satisfaction, “ Heaven is ours.” We are taught by the apostle to practise those virtues which adorn å holy life, and spring from a sincere faith, through the sanctification of the spirit, but which depend on our own diligence, activity, and free choice; whence he enforces this duty with great earnestness, “ Aid paradov onsdatets ;” an expression which is feebly rendered in our transe lation, “ Wherefore the rather give diligence;", for it imports that zealous intention of mind which impels us forward the more vehemently towards the prize of our high calling, from a persuasion that our own efforts will ensure success. j
The awful description of the general dissolution is emphatically applied to the same purpose: “ Wherefore, beloved, seeing ye look for such thing's be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless. Beware lest ye fall from your own stedfastness ; but grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”*
Such is the discrepancy between the doctrine delivered in the New Testament by those who . drew their knowledge of their Lord and Saviour
.* 2 Ep. iii, 14. 17, 18.
from his living word and quickening spirit; and that doctrine of absolute grace which makes a “ complete creature" at once, and afterwards assures a never-failing perseverance to the saints. When those who disseminate these tenets, assume the hallowed name of evangelists,* under the plea of preaching exclusively the word of salvation, is it too severe to say of them in the language of the apostle, that “they are wells without water, and speak great swelling words of vanity ?” +
* Mr. Merryman in the Village Dialogues, * says, “Indeed, sir, I had no conception at first that there could be any other evangelists than the writers of the four gospels.” The reader, as well as Mr. Merryman, may now be convinced that there are other evangelists; but O! 'how fallen! how changed !
Far be it from us, however, to charge them as a body, with wilful falsehood, or premeditated delusion. Their errors, it is admitted, are errors of the understanding, rather than the will; they may be guided by conscience, but a conscience that is misinformed; they, may believe and act according to their judgment, but a judgment which is misled by prejudice and ignorance; and which “ confounds obstinacy with conviction. Many opinions pass for judgment, that are the pure result of humour, inclination, passion, interest, or hasty choice; and a judgment formed from a light then present to the mind, may be changed afterwards with reason, upon an extrinsic, as well as intrinsic evidence. When such evidence hath been exhibited, and men are not stirred up by it, to examine their former tenets, or to recede from what they did once imbibe, they have just cause to doubt the sincerity of their hearts, and to suspect that worldly considerations have a part in their persuasions."-Chandler's Defence of Christianity, p. 342. + 2 Pet, ii, 17, 18.
* Vol. iji. p. 42.
on [CHAP. VII. Nothing is more clearly affirmed in scripture, than that grace may become void, that the spirit may be quenched; and that present justification is not a proof of ultimate salvation : no more than the remission of sins past implies the remission of sins future : nor is there any one passage in the New Testament, properly understood, which warrants an opposite conclusion. And that the special aid and continued assistance of the holy spirit are not granted irrespectively, our Saviour plainly intimates, by making the love and obedience of his disciples a qualification for that gracious gift. “ If ye love me keep my commandments, and I will pray the father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”* He also mentions prayer as the means of obtaining it. “ How much more shall your heavenly father give the holy spirit to them that ask him.” † And St. Peter testifies that “the spirit is given by God to them that obey him," viz. Christ. I
In the parable of the marriage feast, we are told that “they which were bidden were not worthy;" and that “ many are called, but few chosen :" $ because as the context shews, they have not on a wedding garment; they live without holiness; and therefore though called by the gospel, and invited to partake of those blessings which are reserved in heaven for the righteous, are disqualified for that happiness by living un* John xiv. 15, 16.
| Acts v. 32. † Luke si. 9. 13.
$ Matt. xxii, 8. 14.
worthily of their vocation, and are cast into outer darkness.
The history of the centurion relates, that « his prayers and alms went up as a memorial before God." * They commended him to the divine favour, for “ he was a just man, and one that feared God;" and the apostle declares that “ in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” In confirmation of this truth, “ the Holy Ghost fell on all them which lieard the word;” of whom the centurion had said before, “ We are all here before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.”
In this account there is an enumeration of several qualifications:-A devout and charitable temper in the centurion : a readiness to hear the things commanded of God, in his attendants: nay, the fear of God and work of righteousness in auy one : to which succeeds the testimony of the Holy Ghost, “ which fell on all them which heard the word.”
Whether these preparatives be called qualifications or not, is immaterial; the thing itself is clear, that grace is not arbitrary and irrespective in bringing us to Christ, and sealing us unto salvation. That the worthiest and unworthiest of men, are not alike the objects of wrath, or mercy, without regard to their fitness for the one or the other,
* Acts x. 4. 22. 33. 35. 44.