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THE PROMISE OF SALVATION
UPON THE FIRST EXERCISE OF HOLINESS, CONSISTENT WITH THE INDISPENSABLE DUTY OF PERSEVERANCE IN
HOLINESS THROUGH LIFE.
VZRILY, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condem. nation. — JOEN, V. 24. - But he that endureth to the
end shall be saved. - MATT. X. 22.
If the Bible was written by divine inspiration, we must believe that not only all the parts of it are true, but also that all the parts of it are consistent with each other. We find, however, more difficulty in discovering the consistency, than the truth of those things contained in it. We can easily see that what Christ says at one time is true, and what he says at another time is true; but we cannot so easily see that those things which he says at one time are consistent with those he says at another; and this holds true in respect to all the inspired writers. But it is of importance to discover not only the truth, but the consistency, of the various parts of scripture. And for this reason I have placed together two passages, which, though they easily appear to be true, do not so easily appear to be consistent. When Christ says, “ He that heareth
66 my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation," we very readily assent to the truth of the declaration; and when he says, that endureth unto the end shall be saved,” we as readily assent to the truth of this declaration. But how these two dec
larations agree with each other, some perhaps cannot so easily and clearly apprehend. The first condition of salvation seems to be inconsistent with the second, and the second to be inconsistent with the first. In order to set these two passages of scripture in a plain and consistent light, I propose,
1. To show that the Bible sometimes promises eternal life upon the condition of the first exercise of holiness.
II. To show that the Bible sometimes promises eternal life upon the condition of perseverance in holiness. And,
III. To make it appear that the promises upon these two conditions of salvation are really consistent with each other.
I. I am to show that the Bible sometimes promises eternal life upon the condition of the first exercise of holiness.
Our blessed Saviour, every where in the gospel, promises eternal life to every one upon the first exercise of faith, or any other holy affection. He begins his sermon on the mount with these promises. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God. Blessed are the peace makers; for they shall be called the children of God.” In another place he says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Again he says, “ Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." And again he says, “ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find." He spake two parables to illustrate this truth, that salvation is promised upon the first exercise of
grace. In the parable of the publican, he makes him say only, “God be merciful to me a sinner," and immediately subjoins, that he “went down to his house justified.” As soon as he repented, he was justified, and promised eternal life. He gives the same representation in the parable of the prodigal. As soon as he returned, he was freely and fully forgiven. Christ commonly promised final salvation
upon the first exercise of faith. He said, “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “ He that believeth on the Son is not condemned ;” and “he that believeth on the Son bath everlasting life.”' Or as it is in the text, “ He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation." Accordingly in his last commission to his ambassadors, he directs them to offer salvation to all in this form : “He
that believeth shall be saved." Now in all these promises of salvation, Christ makes the first exercise of faith, or of any holy affection, the condition of future and eternal life. He has no qualifying expressions. He says nothing about the degree, or the strength, or the continuance of faith, repentance, or any exercise of holiness, to which the promise of eternal salvation is made. But his mode of speaking in the text and elsewhere, plainly implies an infallible connection between the first exercise of grace, and final salvation. This warranted the apostle
“ There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." And again, “Whom he justified, them he also glorified.” But yet we find,
II. That the Bible sometimes promises eternal life upon the condition of perseverance in holiness. This condition of salvation is expressed by various terms. Sometimes by the phrase, enduring unto the end. Christ uses this phrase in the text. “But he that endureth unto the end shall be saved.” Again he says, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
But he that shall endure unto the end, shall be saved." The apostle James says, “ Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life.” And the apostle Paul says, “ We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end." Christ makes abiding in him and in his doctrine, a term of salvation. In the fifteenth of John, he says, “ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me, ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered ; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." The apostle John says, “ Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, hath both the Father and the Son." Continuance in holiness is often mentioned as a term of salvation. « Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed." The apostle, speaking of God's judging the world, says, “ Who will render to every man according to his deeds : To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honor and immortality, eternal life.” Again he says to the Colossians, “ You that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he, (Christ,) reconciled, in the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy and unblamable, and unreprovable 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." And the apostle James declares, “ Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” And Christ says, “ Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” I may farther observe, that overcoming is another condition, upon which future and eternal happiness is frequently promised. Christ says, “ To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
“ He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." " 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, saving he that receiveth it.” “ He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” “ And I will give him the morning star.” “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." “ Him that overcometh, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out." And "To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Also,“ He that overcometh, shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." Now it appears from all these passages of scripture, that enduring, abiding, continuing and overcoming, are conditions of salvation. And all these conditions are so many proofs, that perseverance in holiness is absolutely necessary in order to secure eternal life. I might here add many scripture exhortations, warnings and admonitions, which are addressed to saints, and which clearly carry the idea that perseverance in holiness is one indispensable condition, upon which eternal life is promised in the gospel. But I will not any farther enlarge upon so plain a point. I have now proved two things proposed, that the Bible sometimes promises eternal life upon the condition of the first exercise of holiness; and sometimes promises eternal life upon the condition of perseverance in holiness unto the end of life. Both these are plain and undeniable truths. Both must be admitted, or both be denied. But neither of them can be denied, without denying the plainest declarations of scripture. We must, therefore, admit them both, whether we can or cannot reconcile them with each other. But, perhaps, we may