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God." It is He who has " begotten us again unto a lively hope;" and we are positively assured that believers are born "not of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God." What then shall destroy the work of the Almighty? Who shall hinder Him from completing what He hath begun to build? If the work were man's own, soon would it be marred. And if God were now to relinquish His work and desert those whom He hath quickened, what would be the consequence? Temptation would soon overcome : sin would soon enslave : satan would soon destroy. But provision in the covenant is made against all these enemies, and therefore, Christian, nothing shall destroy you. Shall temptation? "God will suffer no temptation to befal you, but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." Shall sin? Sin indeed, if loved, indulged, and habitually persisted in, would destroy you. "But sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under the law, but grace." "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand." If indeed you should fall into sin, it will be punished in some mode or other, but in measure. What is the language of inspiration on this subject? "If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." Shall Satan destroy? No! though " he goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may destroy ; " take courage, believe, "the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." On all these accounts "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." The word of truth assures us that "the righteous shall hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." Jesus "will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax, till he bring forth judgment unto victory." And hath he not said, "Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory?" These, my brethren, are no points of doubtful disputation: they are truths respecting which the holy scripture speaks in the clearest and most distinct language; and of the certainty of which the inspired apostle was "confident." This leads me to the last observation founded on the text, namely,
V. That the Holy Spirit, who begins the work of religion in the soul, will also finish and perfect it, is a truth on which we may rest our unshaken reliance.
The apostle expresses himself confidently on this subject; and if you take your Bibles and read over the promises already noticed relating to it, with many others of similar import, you will see that every true Christian may draw the same conclusion. And the foundation for confidence will be still farther strengthened by the consideration of the character and attributes of God. He is faithful and unchangeable. But would He not scorn to act inconsistently with these perfections, were He to leave unfinished the work which in mercy He has begun? What could be said of the faithfulness and immutability of Jehovah (with reverence be it spoken) were He to cast off His people after making them partakers of His grace ?" Which of you," this is the question of the great teacher,—" Which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he be able to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish." But shall the infinitely and "only wise God" be charged with this want of prudence? Shall He who purchased our souls with the blood of His dear Son, and afterwards made them an habitation of His Spirit, leave us to become an habitation of devils? God forbid that we should entertain such unscriptural thoughts of the divine character and attributes! Has not the God of grace said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee?" Shall we say that He, whose " counsels of old are faithfulness and truth," has given us this and many more precious promises in vain? Shall He cause His people to rely on these promises, and will He himself fail to accomplish them? Is not this impossible? Again, it may be asked, Is not God unchangeable? Has He not said, "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.? And has not the immutable Jehovah chosen his people to know his name, and to taste his grace? But why has he chosen them? Was it because they were holy, or because He foresaw they would of themselves become holy? No! for this would be making man the author, or at least the efficient cause, of his own salvation. It could not then be said that salvation is wholly of grace, "otherwise grace would be no more grace." The scriptural representation of the subject is that "God hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." Again it is said that his people are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Can we then suppose that Jehovah, contrary to his own purpose of election, will leave the objects of his choice to perish in the paths of sin, instead of saving them in a way of sanctification? No! He is the Lord who changeth not; and whom Christ loves, he loves unto the end. To this it may be added that in the covenant of grace, the promises are not suspended on man's faithfulness; but on the contrary, God gives all, and we receive all. Hear a description of this subject as given by the prophet Ezekiel, in a promise which, though in its primary sense, it is peculiar to the Jews, is no less appropriate to all the elect Israel of God. "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them . . . And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God."
I shall now proceed to offer a few remarks as the improvement of the subject.
1. It may be proper to admit that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is liable to some objections.
A few of the most plausible of these shall be stated, with an attempt at their refutation.
It has been asserted, by those who oppose this doctrine, that there are various threatenings in the scripture against those who apostatize and turn back from the ways of God and the profession of religion. This is readily granted. But many of the texts do not suppose the falling away of the truly pious; others only shew the consequences of apostacy, if it should take place. But it may be remarked, in reference to these alarming threatenings, that they are addressed to the mixed visible church, in which the wheat and the tares are growing together. As far as they are applicable to true believers, they are