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f ing their faith by their works," according to an * apostle's injunction, they will most effectually 'reprove gainsayers, recal wanderers, and prepare 'themselves, " in this day of trial which is come 'upon all the earth," to give account of their 'stewardship when summoned before their Judge.'l I most earnestly pray God, by his special grace, to incline the hearts of the parochial clergy, yea of all the clergy without exception, to follow the excellent advice contained in this conclusion of the chapter. The substance of it is so excellent, that I have no disposition to except to any particular expressions, which may not exactly accord to my own sentiments. By zealously and steadily attending to these counsels, and by no other means without this, the parochial clergy may recover, and establish, that preponderance over the dissenting teachers, which is so much desired by them. It may, however, be foreseen, that, if only a part of them do this, so that the total number forms by far the minority among the whole company, they will soon either be classed with the evangelical clergy, so called, or will receive some other name of opprobrious distinction, from the majority which continues to neglect the advice. 'Ref. 284—286.
ON FINAL PERSEVERANCE; OR THE GUT OF PERSEVERANCE.1
Our views on this subject are generally and most grievously misunderstood: and it must candidly be acknowledged, that very many crude and unscriptural things have been delivered and published respecting them, which have given too much occasion for these misapprehensions. But I trust that in the following positions I shall deliver the sentiments of many among the more Calvinistic part of the evangelical clergy, as well as my own.
1. We do not hold that all, whom the most discerning Christian or minister considers as true Christians, will be "kept by the power of God "through faith unto salvation :" for God alone can search the heart; and he may see that to be a dead and temporary faith, which we, in the judgment of charity, think living and permanent.
2. Much less do we think that all, who contend for the doctrine of final perseverance, will be thus preserved: for, alas! many of them have nothing but notions, formality, hypocrisy, enthusiasm, and presumption, in which to persevere.
3. Nor do we confine the benefit, of what the learned and pious Witsius calls conservation, exclusively to those true Christians who believe the doctrine; but we extend it equally to those who cannot receive it. Of all those whose faith worketh by love of Christ, of Christians, of holiness, and of all mankind, with genuine benevolence, shewn in its proper effects, and who yet cannot receive this doctrine; we are ready to say, in the words of the poet,
1 The latter part of this title is taken from St. Augustine, who wrote De dond Perseverantice; which the Author in the first edition notices as well describing the doctrine intended.—J. S.
'O fortunatos nimiiim, sua si bona norint!'
4. Nor do we maintain that any man can know himself to be interested in this unspeakable privilege, except by giving diligence, in all the means of grace, and in all holy obedience, to "make his "calling and election sure;" and who is thus enabled to say to our Lord with Peter, "Lord, thou "knowest all things, thou knowest that I love "thee:" or, with St. Paul, "I am crucified with "Christ; nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ "liveth in me; and the life, that I now live in "the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, "who loved me and- gave himself for me."l
5. Nor is it our opinion, that he who is warranted to speak this decisive language will be endued with the gift of perseverance, except by habitually exercising "faith which worketh by "love," and love which "constraineth" to devoted obedience in all good works; for he is " kept "by the power of God, through faith, unto sal"vation." 'The grace of God working with him, 'when he has a good will,' generally, as we suppose, preserves him in an uniform course of upright obedience: but, if he be left to fail in this, he must lose his confidence; and will be brought back into the paths of righteousness by rebukes and corrections, perhaps with grievous terrors, and by renewed repentance, faith, and obedience. Though the Redeemer " prays for us, that our "faith fail not," and that we may not finally perish; yet he exhorts us also to " watch and pray, "lest we enter into temptation:" and, if we neglect this, the best thing that can come upon us is such a rebuking loving frown from the offended Saviour, as shall cause us "to weep bitterly:" but, if any do indeed commit sin, and live and die without deep repentance, they will certainly perish.
1 John xxi. 17. Gal. ii. 20.
6. We believe, however, that all "who are born "of God," and have the faith above described, and are "sealed by the Spirit" of adoption, will be kept from thus departing from God: for " he "will put his fear into their hearts, that they shall ." not depart from him." Yet, however safe we may be in reality, we can have no warranted comfortable ground to consider ourselves as thus secured by the everlasting and well-ordered covenant, except as we are, at the time, walking with God in unreserved obedience. We may lose " the joy "of God's salvation," but the salvation itself will not be lost by any true believer. 'It is grossly 'contrary to the truth of the scriptures to imagine 'that they who are thus renewed can be unborn 'again.'l
This is a brief statement of our views, which we suppose to be grounded on the scriptures. I do not indeed intend to argue the point in any laboured manner; but rather to state our sentiments, and to shew that they are not so obnoxious as they are often represented to be. Our conclusions, however, on this controverted subject, are deduced from numerous passages, both in the Old and in the New Testament; a few of which I shall adduce, with very brief remarks.
1 Archbishop Leigh ton.
In Hannah's song of praise, she saith of JehoVah, " He will keep the feet of his saints."l Now does hot this imply that God will keep his saints from falling, at least, so as finally to perish? In like manner Job says, " The righteous shall hold "on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall "be stronger and stronger."2 Thus the Psalmist also testifies: "The steps of a good man are or"dered 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." "The Lord loveth judgment, and for"saketh not his saints, but they are preserved for '' ever."3 "The mercy of the Lord is from ever"lasting to everlasting upon them that fear him."4 Thus Isaiah: "No weapon that is formed against "thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall "rise against thee in judgment thou shalt con"demn. This is the heritage of the servants of "the Lord; and their righteousness is of me, "saith the Lord."5 Thus also Jeremiah: "After "those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in "their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, "and will be their God, and they shall be my "people; for I will forgive their iniquities, and
• 1 Sam. ii. 9. 2 Job xvii. 9. See also Prov. iv. 18. 'Ps.xxxvii. 23,24,28. * Ps. ciii. 17. See also cxxv. 1.
* Isa. liv. 17. See also ver. 7, 8.