« ElőzőTovább »
God's help to go through. Yet it was impossible he should fail of eternal life, and the whole reward that had been promised him. The joy that was set before him, was not only certain to him, but he had a proper title to it as God's heir, by reason of his relation to God the Father, as being his only begotten Son. It was impossible that he should fail in the work to which he was appointed, as God had promised him sufficient and effectual grace and help to persevere, and already had made known his election : Psal. cx. 7. “He shall drink of the brook in the way, therefore shall he lift up the head.” Isaiah xlii. 1. “Behold my Servant whom I uphold; mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth. I have put my Spirit upon him. He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” Verse 4. " He shall not fail, nor be discouraged." And verse 6: "I, the Lord, have called thee in righteousness: I will hold thine hand, and keep thee." So it was in effect promised in the revelations that were made to Mary and Joseph, Zechariah, &c., and so to himself in answer to his prayers, by a voice from heaven. “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." It appears, that all was certain beforehand, by God's actually saving great numbers beforehand, on the ground of his future perseverance in his work.
§ 14. Grace is that which God implants in the heart against great opposition of enemies, great opposition from the corruption of the heart, and from Satan and the world. Great are the efforts of all these against the implantation of it, and they all labour to the utmost to keep it out. Seeing, therefore, that God manifests his all conquering power in giving grace a place in the heart in spite of those enemies, he will, doubtless, maintain it there against their united efforts to root it out. He that has so gloriously conquered them in bringing in grace, will not at last suffer himself to be conquered, by their expelling that which he has so brought in by his mighty power.He that gloriously subdued those enemies under his feet, by bringing this image of his into the soul, will not suffer this image of his finally to be trampled under their feet. God, alone, could introduce it. It was what he undertook ; and it was wholly his work, and, doubtless, he will maintain it. He will not forsake the work of his own hands. Where he has begun a good work, he will carry it on to the day of Christ. Grace shall endure all things, and shall remain under all things; as the expression TOVTU UTOMevsi literally signifies, in 1 Cor. xiii, 7.
§ 15. The Spirit of God was given at first, but was lost. God gives it a second time, never to be utterly lost. The Spirit is now given in another manner than it was then. Then indeed it was communicated, and dwelt in their hearts. But this communication was made without conveying at the same time any proper right or sure title to it. But when God communicates it the second time, as he does to a true convert, he withal gives it to him to be his own; he finally makes it over to him in a sure covenant. He is their purchased and promised possession. Man, in his first estate, had no benefit at all properly made over to him: for God makes over benefits only by covenant: and then the condition of the covenant had not been fulfilled. But now, man, at his first conversion, is justified and adopted: he is received as a child and an heir, as a joint heir with Christ. His fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. God is theirs, and Christ is theirs ; and the Holy Ghost is theirs; and all things are theirs. The Holy Spirit, who is the sum of all good, is their inheritance; and that little of it that they have in this life, is the earnest of their future inheritance, till the redemption of the purchased possession. Heaven is theirs : their conversation is there. They are citizens of that city, and of the household of God. Christians are represented as being come already to heaven, to Mount Zion, the city of the living God; to an innumerable company of angels, &c.—Heaven is the proper country of the church. They are raised up together by Christ, and made to sit together in heavenly places : Eph. ii. 6. “ They are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” The whole tenor of the gospel shows, that Christians have actually a full and final right made over to them, to spiritual and heavenly blessings.
$ 16. That the saints should be earnestly exhorted and pressed to care and caution, and earnest endeavours to persevere, is most reasonable ; and it cannot be otherwise, notwithstanding their having an absolute, unchangeable promise, that they shall persevere. For still perseverance is their duty, and what they are to do in obedience to God. For that is the notion of perseverance, their holding out in the way of God's commandmenis. But if it were absurd to command them to persevere, as the work they have to do, then how would they do it in obedience to him? The angels in heaven are confirmed, and it is promised unto them that they never shall sin : yet it is proper for God to give them commands, though in so doing he requires the improvement of their care and endeavours to obey and fulfil his will exactly. It is not obedience, if they do not take care and endeavour to obey. If they should cease to take care, that very thing would prove their fall. So, in this case, if Christians cease to take care to persevere, that very thing is
§ 17. It shows the infallible perseverance of true Christians, that their spiritual life is a participation with Christ in the life that he received as risen from the dead. For they live by Christ's living in them: Gal. ij. 20. “I am crucified with
Christ; nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” That is, by the life that he has received since his resurrection, and by his communicating to them that fulness which he received when he rose from the dead. When he rose, he received the promise of the Father, the Spirit of life without measure, and he sheds it forth on believers. The oil poured on the risen head goes down to the skirts of the garments; and thus Christ lives in believers by his Spirit dwelling in them. Believers, in their conversion, are said to be risen with Christ ; Col. ii. 12, 13 “Ye are risen with bim through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you being dead in your sins, and the circumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him.” And chap. iii. 1 “ If ye then be risen with Christ,” &c. And Eph. ii. 5, 6. Even when we
. “ were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together.” Rom. v. 10. “ For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his, life." This spiritual resurrection and life is procured and purchased for Christ's members, by Christ's suffering obedience, in the same manner as his own resurrection and life is purchased by it. And they receive life as united to him, as members of a risen Saviour, and as being married in their conversion to him.
$ 18. The perseverance of faith is necessary to a congruity to salvation. For it is implied in several places of scripture, that if true believers should fail in persevering in faith they would be in a lost state ; John xviii. 8, 9. “ Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he. If, therefore, ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me, have I lost none :" i. e. Christ took care that they might go away, that they might not be in the way of such temptations as would be in danger of overthrowing them, so that they should not persevere. And it is implied, that if they were overthrown, and should not persevere, Christ would have lost them ; the saving relation that they stood in to Christ would have been dissolved. The same seems fully implied in Christ's prayer in the 17th chapter of John. Thus, he makes use not only of their having received God's word, and believed that God had sent him, but their having kept his word, as a good plea for their title to that favour and acceptance of the Father, which he asks of the Father for them; as ver, 6, 7, 8, &c.—The same is implied in the 11th
l verse: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." This implies that their being one, or their standing in a saving
relation to him, and in union with his mystical body, depends on the perseverance of their faith, even that union on which a title to all spiritual and saving benefits depends, which is more fully spoken of in the 21st and following verses. verance of believers seems to be the benefit which is the principal subject of this whole prayer. And in Luke xxii, 31, 32. it is implied, that if Peter's faith had failed, Satan would have had him: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” 1 Pet. i.5. “ Who are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation." Where it seems implied, that if they were not kept through faith, or if their faith did not persevere, they never would come to salvation. So, believers being overthrown in their faith, or their not knowing Christ's voice and following him, is called a being plucked out of Christ's hand; and it is implied, that the consequence would be their perishing. It also seems to be implied, that their possession of eternal life by Christ's gift depends on their perseverance; John x. 27, 28. “ My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I will give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of mine hand.” And in the 15th chapter of John, believers persevering in faith in Christ, or their abiding in him, is spoken of as necessary to the continuance of the saving union and relation that is between Christ and believers, and Christ's abiding in them; as ver. 4, 5. " Abide in me, and I in you,- I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." And in the 6th verse, it is spoken of the necessary consequence of their not abiding in Christ, if that were possible ; that the union should be utterly broken between Christ and them, and that damnation should be the consequence. • 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 re, and they are burned.” And in the
th verse this perseverance of faith is spoken of as the necessary means of the success of faith as expressed in prayer, which is faith's voice, necessary to obtain those good things which faith and prayer seek. “ If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." And in the 9th and 10th verses, it is implied that Christ's acceptance of us, and favour to us as his, depends on our perseverance: As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you. Continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." So, the same perseverance is spoken of as necessary to our continuing in the favour and grace of God. “ Now, when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.”—And so it is spoken of as necessary to continuing in the goodness of God; and being cut off, is spoken of as a certain consequence of the contrary. Rom. xi.
. 22. “Behold therefore, the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity ; but towards thee goodness if thou continue in his goodness : otherwise, thou also shalt be cut off.” That expression, of standing fast in the Lord, 1 Thess. iii. 8. and Phil. iv. 1. implies that perseverance is necessary to a continuing in Christ, or in a saving relation to him ; and more plainly still in 1 John ii. 24. “ Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son and in the Father.” See 1 Cor. xv. 2. and 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. and Heb. xii. 28. See also Jer. iii. 19.
$ 19. Concerning the objection from Ezekiel xviii. 24. “If the righteous shall fall from his righteousness and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembered; but in the iniquity which he hath done shall he die," and the like; God saying this does not at all prove, that it is supposed pos. sible that a truly righteous man should fall from his righteousness; any more than God's saying, Levit. xviii. 4,5. “ Ye shall do my judgments and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein : I am the Lord your God ; ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.” The scripture, in saying, he that doeth these things shall live in them, does not design to teach us, that in the present state of things, it is possible for us to do those things in a legal sense, (in which sense the words are certainly proposed, as the apostle teaches ;) but only teaches the certain connexion there is between doing these things and living in them, for wise ends; particularly to lead us, by such a legal proposal, to see our utter inability to obtain life by our own doings. So the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The scripture, in saying, if the righteous shall fall away from his righteousness, he shall die; does not teach us, that in the present state of things, since the fall, it is possible for a truly righteous man to fall from his righteousness; but only teaches us the certain connexion between the antecedent and the consequent, for wise ends: and particularly, that those who think themselves righteous, may beware of falling from righteousness. For it is not unreasonable to suppose that God should put us on bewaring of those things that are already impossible, any more than that he should direct us to seek and pray for those things that are promised and certain.
§ 20. With respect to those texts in Ezekiel--that speak of a righteous man's falling away from his righteousness-the