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“his abundant mercy he hath begotten us again “ to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus “ Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incor-' “ ruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not “away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept “ by the power of God through faith unto sal“ vation."
What again are we to understand by the words of St. Paul, when he speaks of Christians as “sealed “ by the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest “ of our inheritance until the redemption of the “ purchased possession ? as sealed unto the day of “ redemption ? "2 What, when he says of the Philippians, “Being confident of this very thing, " that he who hath begun a good work in you - will perform it until the day of Christ? ”3 What, when he says to the Thessalonians, “God hath “ not appointed you to wrath, but to obtain sal“ vation by our Lord Jesus Christ ?." 4 What, when he says in the second epistle, “ He hath “ called you by our gospel to the obtaining of “ the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ?” 5 Or of his words to Timothy, after having stated that Hymeneus and Philetus had “ overthrown the “ faith of some :” “ Nevertheless, the foundation “ of God standeth sure, having this seal, The “ Lord knoweth them that are his; and, Let “ every one that nameth the name of Christ depart “ from iniquity?”6
From these, and many other sure testimonies, promises, and covenant engagements of God our Saviour, we are led, while “fighting the good fight 11 Pet. i. 3–5. Epb. i. 13, 14. iv.30. Phil. i. 6. • 1 Thess. v. 9, 23, 24.'5 2 Thess. ï. 14.
*6 2 Tim. i. 19. in
“ of faith,” but looking forward to future and perhaps far severer, conflicts, to adopt the apostle's words, “Who shall separate us from the love “ of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or - persecution, or famine, or nakedness, 'or peril, “ or the sword? As it is written, For thy sake we “are killed all the day long ; we are accounted “ as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these “ things we are more than conquerors, through “ him that loved us. For I am persuaded that “ neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor princi“ palities, nor powers, nor things present, nor “ things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any “other creature, shall be able to separate us 6 from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus « our Lord.” 1
The words of our Article shew at least that the venerable compilers were by no means disposed to exclude, or oppose, this part of that system which was well known to them, and which is now called Calvinism : " They who be endued with so excel“ lent a benefit be called, according to God's pur
pose, by his Spirit working in due season ; they through grace obey the calling ; they be justified 'freely ; they be made the sons of God by adop'tion ; they be made like the image of his only· begotten Son Jesus Christ, they walk religiously
in good works ; and at length by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity'? Not one of them, by any means whatever, is supposed to come short of it.
How the great champion of our church, the judicious Hooker, understood these scriptures, and ' Rom. vii. 28–39.
· Art. xvii.
this Article, let his own words testify: ““ I know 'in whom I have believed :"I am not ignorant whose precious blood hath been shed for me: I have a shepherd full of kindness, full of care, and 'full of power; unto him I commit myself. His only finger hath engraven this sentence in the
tablet of my heart:,“ Satan hath desired to win'now thee as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that 'thy faith fail not.” Therefore, the assurance of 'my hope I will labour to keep as a jewel unto
the end, and by labour, through the gracious ‘mediation of his prayer, I shall keep it.'? .
If any solid and satisfactory explanation can be given of these scriptures above considered, which excludes this doctrine, let it be fairly attempted. Yet the more candid, even of our opponents, must, I think, allow that we have plausible grounds for our sentiments : we ourselves think them unanswerable. It may also be observed that, when apostates are spoken of in the New Testament, almost always some intimation is given unfavourable to their previous character. “These have no “root in themselves.” The foolish virgins had " no oil in their vessels.” The branches of the vine which -“ are broken off” were “ unfruitful.” “ They went out from us, because they were not “ of us ; for, if they had been of us, they would “ no doubt have continued with us.” “There must « be heresies, that they who are approved may be “ made manifest.”
It appears also to us, that the Christian soldier, when fighting valiantly “ the good fight of faith,”
' 2 Tim. i. 12. Sermon. On the Certainty and Perpetuity of Faith in the Elect.
with many a severe contest at the present, needs some better security for the future, against final defeat and everlasting ruin, than his own wavering resolution and his own heart, which he knows to be extremely deceitful; for “he who trusteth in 6 his own heart is a fool.” He, and he alone, “who “ continueth to the end shall be saved.” “Hitherto .“ God hath helped me ;" but on what am I to
rely for the future? On my own heart? God forbid ! Is there, then, any promise, or security, to the true believer, on which I may rest my confidence, and say, “ He hath delivered and doth “ deliver, and in him I trust that he will yet de" liver ?” That he will “ deliver me from every “ evil work, and preserve me to his heavenly “ kingdom?” Deplorable is the case of that man, who knows the deceitfulness of his own heart, and the power and subtlety of his enemies, and who cannot confide in the faithfulness of God, except in subordination to his own faithfulness as the prescribed condition, on which at last the whole depends SIt is impossible that an unwatchful and negligent person can have that consciousness of love to Christ, and other holy affections, which legitimately authorize him to take the comfort of God's promises to this effect : it is presumption for him to attempt it; yet cordials are not to be wholly expelled from the materia medica, because some persons intoxicate themselves with them.
CHAPTER IV., 1
THE HEATHEN DOCTRINE OF FATE DISTINGUISHED
FROM CHRISTIAN PREDESTINATION.
The arguments of Justin Martyr, concerning Fate, addressed to heathens, and to heathen princes, did not at all relate to the Christian doctrine of God's predestination; or the predetermination of infinite wisdom, justice, truth, and love; by which free agency is not in the least interrupted, or responsibility diminished: but to heathen fate, which was a sort of necessity, independent of the gods and which their supreme god himself could not bend or alter. O genetrix, quo fata vocas ? aut quid petis istis ?
Cui tanta deo permissa potestas ?? Philosophers indeed spoke of it in more guarded, though less perspicuous language ; but this was the popular doctrine. Fate was a necessity superior to the will of the gods; and totally unconnected with the good or bad conduct of the persons concerned, in every sense; but intimately connected with auguries, divinations, and all kinds of fortune-telling, sorcery, and witchcraft ; which in scripture are considered as the worship of de vils. It does not clearly appear from what source, it was supposed to arise, or whence it had its name. Fatum only signifies what hath been spoken.
Ref. 291. ? Virgil, Æneid, ix. 93.-97. The words of Jupiter to Cybele.