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make just such provisos or conditions in his Will as he thinks proper; and those to whom he makes devises must comply with his conditions, in order to become fully and finally entitled to them. God might have justly disinherited all mankind upon their first apostacy; but in mere mercy he has given large legacies to all true believers, who will comply with the conditions, which he has proposed in his new Testament. Let us now examine that sacred and precious Instrument, and see what terms, he has therein specified, in respect to the full and final salvation of believers.
And here we find, in the first place, that God requires believers to persevere in faith and obedience, in order to obtain their promised inheritance. They must continue to love, to repent, to believe, lo submit, to obey, and to perform the various duties, which he has enjoined upon them in his revealed Will. Christ repeatedly said to his disciples, “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” And he much oftener promised salvation to those only, who shall faithfully fulfil their duty, and finally overcome all enemies and obstacles in the path to heaven. "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth save be that receiveth it. He that overcometh and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name before my Father, and before his angels. To him that overcometh I will grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcome, and am set down
with my Father in his throne.” Paul said to the believing Jew, “Behold the goodness and severity of God: on them that fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness; if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou shalt be cut off. He said to the Colossians, “You, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard." Many other similar passages might be mentioned; but these are sufficient to show, that true believers must overcome the world, endure unto the end, and finally persevere in faith and holiness, in order to take possession of the inheritance of the saints in light.
But, secondly, lest true believers should make shipwreck of their faith, and finally fall away, God has made a proviso in his revealed Will, which effectually secures their love, their faith, and their obedience to the end of life. He has promised to aid and assist them through their whole christian course. The Apostle Paul speaks with confidence to christians upon this subject. “Now he which establisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” Again he says in the same epistle, “Now he that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given us the earnest of the Spirit. And speaking to those who had embraced the gospel and trusted in Christ, he says, “In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession.” The apostle Peter likewise taught christians in general the absolute certainty both of their finally persevering in holiness, and of their finally possessing their promised inheritance. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant merey hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” Thus God has abundantly promised to carry on the good work which he has begun in the hearts of believers, until the day of Jesus Christ. And this promise of the aid and earnest of the Spirit to the heirs of salvation, is a peculiar proviso in God's last Will and Testament. Other testators often propose con. ditions to their intended heirs, but never engage to make them actually perform the conditions proposed. This however, is essential to the design and form of God's revealed Will. If this article were not inserted, the legatees not only might, but certainly would fail of obtaining their eternal inheritance.
It must be further observed under this head, thirdly, that God has made a proviso in his Will, by which he retains his original right to chastise or punish believers, in case they prove negligent in duty or disobedient to his righteous commands. He expressly declares concerning his children in the eighty-ninth Psalm. “If they 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 lov. iog-kindness will I not utterly take from them, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail,” And agreeably to this the Apostle asserts in the twelfth of Hebrews, that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every
son whom he receiveth." These are the conditions proposed in God's last Will and Testament, upon which all true believers are justified, pardoned, and accepted.
1. It appears from what has been said concerning the character and justification of believers, that they are still in a state of probation. Though in consequence of their justification, their probationary state is materially altered, yet it is by no means terminated. Before they believed, "they were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” But since they believed, “they are made nigh by the blood of Christ, and are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." Before they became believers, they were upon trial, whether they would repent and believe the gospel; but after they have repented and believed, they are still upon trial, whether they will continue to exercise faith, repentance, and new obedience. Though they have the promise of divine aid and assistance to persevere in well doing, which renders their final salvation certain; yet this certainty does not put a period to their state of trial. It was certain before they believed, that they should believe; but that certainty did not put an end to their probationary state. So, since they have believed, the certainty of their persevering in faith, and love, and every holy affection, does not put an end to their probationary state. The reason is, their salvation is still suspended upon conditions; and these very conditions constitute a state of probation. Their state of trial is precisely the same, as if it were not certain, that they will finally perform the conditions upon
which their salvation is suspended. Christ himself was in a state of trial, while he was about his Father's business here on earth. His Father appointed him a work to perform, and promised him a glorious reward, upon condition of his finishing the work, which he had given him to do. He also promised to hold his hand and support him through all his labors and sufferings; so that it was infallibly certain that he should finish his work and receive his promised reward. But the certainty of his fidelity and obedience unto death, did not put him out of a state of probation. The case is exactly the same in regard to believers. Though they are justified, and have received the spirit of promise, which renders their salvation absolutely certain; yet they are still in a probationary state, because their salvation is suspended upon their fulfilling the conditions of their final and complete pardon. And the more certain it is, that God will hold them in his hand, guard them from danger, and assist them in duty; the greater is their obligation, as well as encouragement, to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, until they finish their course, and receive the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.
2. If God justifies believers upon the terms which have been mentioned; then it is easy to reconcile his conduct towards them in this life, with his perfect rectitude. He rebukes, and chastens, and scourges every son whom he receiveth. David declares, that “many are the afflictions of the righteous;" and this declaration we find verified every day and every where. Though these afflictions are fatherly chastisements, and designed to promote the spiritual benefit of believers, yet they are real punishments for sin. But how can God consistently punish them in this life, any more than in the next, if he fully and uncondi