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and I will draw you from the water." Does the drowning man save himself in this instance, or does his friend deliver him?" Here one of the most essential things in the doctrine of salvation by free grace, is left out of sight. It is true, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is manifested in saving the sinner who by faith lays hold, and who by faith keeps hold of his hand; but this is not revealing all his grice. His grace is most gloiously manifested, in giving the sinner a heart to lay hold of him by faith, and in giving him a heart to keep hold by the same faith, even unto the end.
The view which we have taken of the covenant of grace, as securing by promise the perseverance of all real saints, is the only scheme of grace, which really admits of an assured hope of salvation. On no other scheme can any one know that he shall ever go to heaven, until he has arrived there. In the first coveant, the covenant of works made with sinless creatures, it could not be known to any one, that he should persevere to the end of his probation, until that season of probation had actually expired. For, tho' there was a firm promise of life to the obedient, there was no promise which secured the continuation of an obedient temper to those who were now obedient. Therefore the first covenant did not admit of such a thing, as an assured hope of eternal blesseduess while the season of trial lasted. The tenor of that covenant was, "Hold fast to my hand," and you shall be safe: But there was no promise which said, I will hold thy hand, and will keep thee: There was no promise which said, As thy days, so shall thy strength be. Therefore there could then be no persuasion, that he who had begun a good work would perform it.
III. It is objected against our doctrine; "It renders useless a great part of the Bible; for it must be admitted that there are innumerable places where the condition of salvation is expressed. Such as, If ye endure-Be thou faithful-If ye hold fast the beginning of your confidence to the end-Strive to enter in at the strait gate-If ye do these things ye shall never fall-If these things be̟ in you and abound. We have also a great many cautions, Quench not the Spirit, &c. If there be no possibility of final apostasy, all these con
ditions, to the performance of which the promise is made; and all these cautions are entirely useless." p. 249. I would ask my antagonist, whether that revelation, which God made to his servant Paul, concerning the temporal salvation of all who were with him in the ship, did not make it certain that they would all get to land? I would also ask, whether we are to consider the apostle as having forgotten this revelation, when he said afterwards, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Here was a divine promise made to Paul, concerning the personal salvation of a particular number, known by name; and yet he never thought, nor did they think, of relaxing attention to the means of preserving their lives. He exhorted them to take some meat for their health; and exhorted them to prevent the sailors from leaving the ship. They pressed the ship as near to the shore as possible, and then used all suitable means to escape from the wreck to the land. Now, if means were not only useful, but absolutely necessary in this case ;—if they could even be urged as a sine qua non, by him who had declared from the mouth of God, that they should all get safe to land; who will dare to say, that the certainty of the saints' perseverance, renders useless all cautions and exhortations, and makes all conditions absurd? Concerning the ship, the truth was, God had absolutely determined, that all who were in it should be saved from a watery grave, but he had also, with as much absoluteness, determined that this salvation should be in the use of certain means on their part. This laid a foundation to exhort them to use these means, and to tell them, that if these means were neglected they could not be saved.
God has absolutely determined, that there shall be a Millennium of holiness and peace on the earth. He says concerning it, I the Lord will hasten it in his time. To effect this, he has determined that his church, before the introduction of the Millennium, shall be brought into a state of spiritual travail, and that by their means gospel light shall be diffused. This makes it proper to exhort the people of God, to awake,,all as one man, and strive together in their prayers, to bring forward that glorious day, and to make every effort to spread
the knowledge of Christ through the whole earth. It also makes it proper to say, Except Zion travail, the latter day glory cannot commence.-Except christians use means to diffuse abroad the knowledge of Christ, the world cannnot be saved. But when we use this language, which points out our duty, and the absolute ne cessity of means, according to the fixed plan of the Most High, we do not express the least doubt of the promises of God, concerning this future glorious day, or of his faithfulness to fulfil them.
According to our views of the covenant of grace, it contains promises which ensure the perseverance of the saints. But we also believe, that they are to persevere in the use of appointed means. It is not determined they shall go to heaven, any more than it is determined, that they shall hold on in the narrow path which leads to it. It is therefore perfectly consistent to say; that except they endure to the end they cannot be saved. And this makes it proper to exhort them, to take heed lest they fall away. Tho' it will probably be granted by our opponents, that Paul had a full assurance of his own salvation; yet he tells us, that he kept under his body and brought it into objection, lest after having preached to others he himself should be a castaway. 1. Cor. ix. 27. In this view of the subject it can be seen, that our scheme of the covenant of grace, does not render useless a great part of the Bible. It does not render useless the conditions, and cautions, with which the scripture abounds.
IV. It is objected that our doctrine of Perseverance is dangerous. "Your doctrine," says Mr. B. "is as dangerous as it is comfortless. If the first act of divine grace is believed to be justification, and if after a sinner has experienced light and conviction, he rests satisfied, believing he cannot so fall as to perish, and if he should be mistaken in his conclusion respecting his own experience, (which I think you will allow is possible that he may be)-Admitting, I say, this to be the case, sucht a man is in imminent danger of eternal perdition.”
In addition to the answers given to the preceding objections, which are also applicable to this, we would remark; that the scriptures require all professed be
lievers, to hold themselves in readiness to attend to the exhortation, Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith Every man should be always ready to prove his own work. Among the evidences of our being in the faith, and of the genuineness of our religion, this is essential; that it should be of that kind which endures; which, instead of withering away, grows more flourishing. Here is a man who declares, that ten years ago he was converted; that is to say, ten years ago he drank the living water which none but Christ can give. Is not this one proper question to ask him : Has the water answered to the description which Christ gave of it, in this respect ;-that it should prove to be in you a well of living water? If he cannot say that this has been the case, we may tell him at once, You are mistaken about the water you drank. You might have thought it was Christ's living water, when you drank it; but if it had in reality been this water, it would have answered to the description which he gave of it for it always constitutes, in the hearts of those who drink it, a well of water springing up into everlasting life.'
In the case of the men who were in the ship with Paul, we saw that means were necessary to their safety, after assurance had been given, that they should all escape. The case of believers is somewhat different from that. There, the very persons were known, without any respect to character, concerning whom this promise was made. But believers have not the promise of eternal life made to them by name. While they are unbelievers, they cannot know that God designs to save them; and after they become believers, their knowledge of his design to save them, is in proportion to the scriptural evidence which they have of the genuineness of their faith; and this is in proportion to the strength, the purifying effect, and fruitfulness of faith.
When matters are viewed in this point of light, (and in this point of light they ought to be viewed,) the objection, which we are now considering, appears to be without foundation. We will not say, that hypocrites have never abused this doctrine: But shall we withhold the children's bread from them, for fear that
others will make an improper use of it? We will not say, that christians themselves have never abused this precious doctrine. Through remaining corruption, they are liable to abuse all the goodness and mercy of their heavenly Father. But shall we therefore seek to keep out of sight the goodness and mercy of God, because they have been abused?
But say our opponents; Is not our doctrine, of a possibility of falling from grace, the safest? To this it may be replied: If it be truth, it is no doubt the safest, If it be not the truth, it is no doubt a dangerous error. Error, however specious, is always dangerous. It tends to sap the foundation, which supports the great system of truth. The error, (for such we deem it,) that we have now been opposing, strikes at the very life of the covenant of grace. It takes the salvation of the church out of the hands of the Redeemer, and places it in their own fallible hands. It leads them to trust for perseverance on something besides the promises of God, which are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus. It suffers the gates of hell to prevail against the church. Every thing is put afloat; and whether any of those, who now believe in the Son of God, will ever be with him in glory, is to us a matter of entire uncertainty.
We were just closing this part of our work, when this sentence caught our eye: "When you are able to bring one text which says a saint cannot thus fall away, it will be time to review the ground; but this you neither have, nor can do, and as to your inferential proof, deduced from the covenant of redemption, and covenant of grace, as it is founded in erroneous conceptions of those covenants, it can never stand against the pointed testimony of scripture." p. 234. If my conceptions of these covenants are entirely eroneous, then it is probable, that the arguments which I have drawn from them, are also erroncous; but if thesc covenants contain promises, which ensure the salvation of all, who are once united to Christ, then these covenants cannot be far from direct proof of the doctrine of the saints' perseverance. If we can show, that in the covenant which the Father has made with the Divine Son, there is a promise, that the covenant shall stand fast with him, and if we can show, that