« ElőzőTovább »
the gift of God ; and since attempting to pray, in your present unhappy condition, has a tendency to convince you of the depravity of your hearts, and of your total want of the spirit of grace and supplication. But you ought to be told, and must be made to know, that however your lives may be reformed, and however much you may read, and hear, and pray; as long as your hearts reject the only Saviour, and you do nothing in the exercise of faith in him, you cannot please God, or be at all acceptable in his sight : nor can we assure you that he will ever give you renewing grace. You are condemned still, as much as ever; and the wrath of God, as much as ever, abideth on you ; and is this a state in which you ought to make yourselves casy ! Certainly, in a case of so much danger, and in a matter of such everlasting consequence, you ought to give yourselves no rest, till you have fled for refuge and laid hold on the hope set before you. Till you have received Christ, and are found in him; not having your own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. Very pertinent to the case of an awakened sinner, out of Christ, is the angel's admonition to Lot, when led by the hand ont of Sodom : “ Escape for thy life ; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain : escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.”
5. Let those who think themselves believers, be cautioned not to rest in faith, as if this were the only work required of them, or the only thing that will have any influence on their condition in the world to come. They who have believed in God, and also in Christ, must be careful to maintain good works. In point of duty, the gospel enjoins sinless perfection, as much as the law : nor are any under so great rbligation as true believers, to abound in the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. Let it also be remembered, that there is no other way to make your calling and election sure. That faith which does not imply a good heart, or is not followed by a good life, is not the faith of God's elect. It is dead, like the body without the soul. It is no better than the faith of devils. The only faith in Christ whereby we can be saved, is one which works by love, and leads to holiness in all manner of conversation. And in point of interest, how powerful are the motives set before christians, to works of faith and labors of love ? For every good work, done from love to God and men, and in the exercise of faith in Christ, we are assured of receiving an eternal reward—an additional weight of glory. “Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
ON THE PRESERVATION AND PERSEVERANCE OF
TRUE BELIEVERS IN CHRIST.
1 PETER I. 5.
Who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salva
ETER was called to the apostleship of the circumcision, as is observed by Paul ; and his two epistles seem to have been chiefly designed for the converted Jews. . James expressly inscribes his, “ To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad." And this first of Peter is superscribed in a very similar manner : ver. i, “ Peter, an apostle to the strangers scattered thoughout Pontus, Galatia, Capadocia, Asia, and Bethynia.” They were thus dispersed, it is probable, by the persecution which began at Jerusalem soon after the ascension of Christ. The apostle begins his letter to them with a description of their character and state, and with the apostolic benediction : ver. 2, “ Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ : Grace unto you, and peace, bc multiplied.” Then, to console them under present sufferings, and in their exile from the earthly land of promise, he reminds them of the better country, even an heavenly, which they had in certain reversion : ver. 3, 4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, 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.” In our text, he then assures them, that as this glorious inheritance was reserved for them, so they were effectually secured from falling short of its final possession. Who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.
The doctrine of the saints' perseverance, like the other capital doctrines of the gospel, is taught, at sundry times, in divers manners of expression, that it might be more fully understood : and to this end, as well as for the sake of greater variety of method, it may be most useful, many times, to follow the particular phraseology of scripture. Accordingly, on this text, it is proposed,
To consider the state and character of those here said to be kept-From what, all such are keptHow they are kept_The certainty that they shall be thus kept ; gand the objections which have been supposed to lie against this doctrine, that any are so infallibly secured by divine power and grace.
I. It is proposed to consider, very briefly, the state and character of those who are here said to be kept unto salvation. And,
1. They are sucli, and such only, as have been renewed in the spirit of their minds. :
The persons spoken of in our text, had been before described as being, “ Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience.” It is supposed by the apostle that they had been cffectually called to holiness and