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2 Pet. 1. 5.
“ in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as
many as be perfect, be thus minded.” He, and other apostles, give many excellent precepts to this purpose, to those christians to whom they wrote. “ besides this, giving all diligence, add to
your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance;
and “ to temperance, patience; and to patience,
godliness; and to godliness, brotherly “ kindness; and to brotherly kindness, cha
rity. For if these things be in you, and “ abound, they make you
shall nei" ther be barren, nor unfruitful in the know“ledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is agreeable to the fame general maxim, that perseverance till death is absolutely required of all who expect the rewards of the gospel; and a backslider, at any period, is always represented as even in a worse condition than one who had never known the right way; since the knowledge he had of the excellence of it ought to have been an additional motive with him to continue in it.
To this purpose the divine being addresses the children of Israel by Ezekiel, ch. xviii. 24.
“ When the righteous turneth away “ from his righteousness, and committeth
iniquity, and doth according to all the “ abominations that the wicked man doth, “ Thall he live ? All his righteousness that “ he hath done thall not be mentioned : in “ his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in “ his sin that he hath finned, in them shall “ he die.” It is also our Saviour's doctrine, John viii. 31. “ That if we continue in his
word, then are we his disciples indeed.' The aggravation of apostacy is particularly pointed out by the apostle Peter, 2 Pet. ii. 20. “ If after they have escaped the pollu“tions of the world, through the knowledge “ of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
they are again entangled therein, and overcome;
the latter end is worse with them " than the beginning. For it had been bet“ter for them not to have known the way “of righteousness, than after they have “known it, to turn from the holy com“ mandment delivered unto them.”
On this account the apostles urge their fellow-christians to constancy in the profession of the gospel, viz. left they should lose their reward, and enhance their future condemnation. Gal. vi. 9.
" Let us not “ be weary in well-doing: for in due season shail reap,
if we faint not.” 2 John 8. “Look to yourselves, that we lose not “ those things which we have wrought, but « that we receive a full reward.”
It was the great maxim of the heathen philosophers of old, as it is with almost all those who reject christianity at present, to think with the wife, and act with the coulzar ; but a perfect consistency of character and profession is strictly required of christians. In time of persecution we are allowed, and even commanded, to endeavour to avoid it, by all fair and honest methods ; so that if we be perfecuted in one city, we may flee to another ; but on no confideration whatever are we to make shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience, by denying or concealing our christian profeffion. With respect to
this great hour of trial, the declarations of our Lord are most express and solemn.
Having foretold his own sufferings, and severely rebuked Peter, who could not bear the thought of them, we are told, Mark viii. 34. that “ he called the people unto “him, with his disciples, and faid unto
them, Whosoever will come after me, let “ him deny himself, and take up his cross, "and follow me. Whosoever will save his “ life shall lose it; but whosoever fhall “ lose his life for my fake and the gospel's, “ the same shall save it.” Matt. x. 32. " Whofoever shall confefs me before men, “ him will I confess also before my Father " who is in heaven. But whosoever shall
deny me before men, him will I also deny “ before
Father who is in heaven.”
These admonitions the apostles keep in mind in their writings, and therefore the apostle Paul says, 2 Tim. ii. 12. “ If we " suffer, we shall also reign with him: if “we deny him, he will also deny us. And, acting upon this maxim, thousands of
christians have chearfully laid down their lives for the profession of the christian faith.
It is to be observed, that, in the scrip· tures, though the rewards of virtue are only promised to persons of a truly virtuous character and conduct, they are promised to those who shall fo repent of their fins, as to manifest a change of character and conduct at any time of the active part of their lives. No person, however, has any encouragement from any part
any part of scripture, to expect that he shall be entitled to the rewards of the gospel, who repents so late, that he has no opportunity of thewing a change of conduct at all.
Besides, few of those late professions of repentance are sincere, or, if sincere, would have been lasting; and, according to the uniform language of the scriptures, it is “ according to the deeds that men have ac
tually done in this life,” that they shall receive at the hand of God hereafter. 2. Cor.
“ for we must all appear before the " judgment seat of Christ; that every one