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case. The grand proposition in the devil's argument was, If thou art the Son of God, his angels will certainly preserve thee; thou canst not be hurt. And his conclusion was, therefore, Without any danger, thou mayest cast thyself down from this eminence.* So, in the present case, the argument contained in the objection is, If you be a child of God, and in union with Christ, your perseverance is certain. For, being the charge of omnipotence, it is impossible you should finally fall. Therefore you may safely bid adieu to all circumspection; you need not fear sin, or its consequences; nor is there any occasion to be solicitous about walking with God in the ways of holiness. But as our Lord, who had not the least doubt of the special care of his Father over him as man, rejected Satan's proposal with the utmost abhorrence, knowing that it was a temptation from beneath, and the argument used to enforce it an abuse of the scripture; so the believer, though he is fully persuaded that grace reigns in every part of his salvation, and though it strongly appears in that special care of God which is incessantly exercised over him in his perseverance to eternal life, yet he is well aware that he is not to continue in sin, 'that grace may abound.' On every such suggestion, therefore, he will from his heart say, 'God forbid!' Besides, there are many very important purposes answered, by walking in the ways of obedience, respecting the Christian himself, his neighbour, and his God; which having been considered already, I shall not here particularly mention.
Nor ought it to be objected against the security of the people of God, for which I am pleading, 'That the saints are exhorted to pray for the continual aids of grace, for divine support in times of trial, and for protection against their enemies ;' as if it argued their state uncertain as to the final event. For Christ, who was absolutely sure of happiness, nor could possibly fail of enjoying the reward which was promised
* Matt, iv 5, 6.
to him as Mediator, or come short of possessing that glory which he had with the Father before the world was, yet prayed for it with as much fervour as any saint can possibly do for the most desirable blessing.* A noble example this of the assurance of faith respecting our eternal state, and of an entire reliance on the divine promises, perfectly consistent with earnest and constant prayer for the fulfilment of them!
But notwithstanding the Lord, as the covenant God of his people, has engaged that they shall not perish eternally, yet as he has nowhere engaged that they shall not fall into sin, and as sin is provoking to the eyes of his holiness, they ought to use the utmost caution lest by disobedience they move him to use the scourge. For the frowns of a father will be hard to bear, and their spiritual peace and joyful communion with him will be much impaired by such disobedience and chastisement for it. The children of God, when careless in their walk, and guilty of backslidings, have frequently and severely smarted under his correcting hand. The sorrowful confessions and bitter complaints of David, after his scandalous intrigue with Uriah's wife, are a standing, incontestable proof of this observation. Their persuasion of interest in the everlasting covenant has been terribly shaken, if not lost for a season, so as to wound their hearts with the keenest anguish; till, after many prayers and great watchfulness, they have been again indulged with the smiles of Jehovah's countenance, and the joys of his salvation. The consideration of this, together with a remembrance how God the Father and his incarnate Son are dishonoured, the Holy Spirit grieved, the glorious gospel reproached, weak believers offended, and the hands of the wicked strengthened, by the careless conduct of Christian professors, afford a sufficient reason for those multiplied cautions which are given to the disciples of Christ in the book
*John xvii. 1. 5. Compare 2 Sam. vii. 27. 29. Dan. ix. 2, 3.
of God, that they indulge not criminal passions in the least degree; without supposing that their final happiness depends on the steadiness of their walk, or the goodness of their conversation. For our perseverance in faith and holiness depends on the excellency of our state, as being in covenant with God, his adopted children, and the members of Christ; not upon our own obedience and endeavours.
Hence you may learn, believer, that as the enemies of your soul are various and inveterate, subtle and powerful, and your spiritual frames inconstant, it is highly necessary you should live under a continual remembrance of these humbling considerations. What more advisable, what so necessary for you as to walk circumspectly, to watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation? An humble sense of your own weakness and insufficiency should ever abide on your mind, and appear in your conduct. As the corruption of nature is an enemy that is always near you, always in you while on earth, and ever ready to open a door to temptation from without, you ought to keep your heart with all diligence. Watch, diligently watch, over its imaginations, motions, and tendencies. Consider whence they arise, and to what they incline, before you execute any of the purposes formed in it. For such is the superlative deceitfulness of the human heart, that he who trusteth in it is a fool,'* ignorant of his dan ger, and unmindful of his best interests. This consideration should cause every child of God to bend the suppliant knee with the utmost frequency, humility, and fervour-to live, as it were, at the throne of grace, nor depart thence till out of the reach of danger. Certain it is, that the more we see of the strength of our adversaries, and the danger we are in from them, the more shall we exercise ourselves in fervent prayer. Can you, O Christian, be cool and indifferent, dull and careless, when the world, the flesh, and the devil, are your implacable and unwearied adversaries? Dare
* Prov. xxviii. 26. Jer. xvii. 9. Prov. iv. 23.
you indulge yourself in carnal delights, or a slothful profession, while the enemies of your peace and salvation are ever active and busy in seeking to compass your fall, your disgrace, and, if possible, your eternal ruin? Awake thou that sleepest! Mistake not the field of battle for a bed of rest. Be sober; be vigilant.
Again: Are there, notwithstanding the believer's weakness, and the power of his enemies, such strong assurances given of his perseverance, complete victory, and final happiness? Then, though, with fear and trembling, he should often reflect on his own insufficiency, he may rely on a faithful God, as his unerring guide and invincible guard, with confidence and joy. The remembrance of that will be a constant motive to humility and watchfulness; the exercise of this will maintain peace and consolation of soul-will be an inexhaustible source of praise, in spite of all the attempts of inveterate malice in his most enraged foes. For the Almighty himself says, Fear not: I am thy shield, and will for ever defend thee; and thy exceeding great reward, to render thee completely and eternally happy.* While the eternal God is his refuge, and the everlasting arms his support, he has no occasion to fear. If God be for us, who can be against us?' When the gates of hell and the powers of earth united assail the believer, menacing destruction to both body and soul, then the name, the promises, the oath, and the attributes of Jehovah, are a strong tower, an impregnable fortress. And being conscious of his own inability to resist the enemy, he 'runneth into it, and is safe;'t secure from every attack, however crafty or violent. The righteous man, the real Christian, dwelleth on high, out of the reach of every evil. His place of defence is the munition of rocks, immovable as their solid foundations, inaccessible as their lofty ridges. Nor shall the favoured inhabitants of this everlasting fortress ever be obliged to surrender for want of provisions. A fulness of living bread, and streams of living water, are united with invincible strength. + Prov. xviii. 10.
* Gen. xv. 1.
For it is added, 'Bread shall be given him, and his
Thus divine grace appears and reigns in the perseverance of the true believer. For grace provides the means necessary to it, grace applies them, and omnipotent grace crowns them with success, to its own eternal HONOUR and PRAISE.
Concerning the PERSON of CHRIST, by whom
THE Person of Christ, considered in connexion with
The constitution of the Redeemer's wonderful person was the effect of infinite wisdom, and manifestation of boundless grace. In the hypostatical union of the divine and human nature of Christ is the foundation of our hopes of eternal happiness laid. By the personal union of these two natures, he is rendered capable of performing the work of a Mediator between God and For if he had not possessed a nature inferior to that which is divine, he could neither have performed the obedience required, nor suffered the penalty threatened by the holy law, both of which were absolutely necessary for the salvation of sinners.
Nor was it sufficient for him barely to assume a cre* Isa. xxxiii. 16.