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“ fruit with patience ;” or of being brought back from every deviation by rebukes and stripes, with deep repentance, weeping, and supplication.The evangelical clergy, it may confidently be said, have in general as deep an abhorrence, as any of their opponents can have, of the detestable sentiment, that a justified person may, without danger, live according to the inclinations of the carnal mind. No doubt, a few extravagant enthusiasts have spoken this language, and even language more shocking than I should choose to transcribe : but why are all Calvinists to be answerable for the tenets of a few individuals, whom they with all earnestness protest against? So far indeed are the 'evangelical clergy from countenancing this sentiment, that a large proportion of them do not so much as hold the doctrine of final perseverance, even when stated in the most guarded manner.--I should deem it an important end answered by this publication, if I might be admitted, (as one by years, experience, and observation, in some measure competent,) to explain to our 'accusers and opponents what we do, and what we do not maintain: for misapprehensions of the most serious nature give occasion to accusations and censures, which we by no means merit That we believe and avow some, and many things, which numbers do not, is true, and we do not wish to shrink from the fair investigation of our sentiments : but those charges, or clamours, by which we are chiefly rendered obnoxious in the eyes of the public, are wholly ungrounded; as all will find who bestow the pains to read our publications. They, whose cause I am concerned to
plead, maintain that none can possess scriptural proof, or assurance, of his justification, except as his faith produces holy fruits : that none can preserve this assurance, except by “patient continu
ance in well doing :” that none, having by sin lost this assurance, can regain it, except by renewed and deep“ repentance, and works meet for “repentance :” that, in order to possess and preserve assured hope, we must, after the apostle's example, " keep under the body, and bring it into
subjection,” “ crucify the flesh with its affections “ and lusts,” and press forward in our Christian course : and that God, who appoints the end, appoints also the means, by which alone it can be attained. Exhortations, instructions, warnings are to be used by ministers; watching, prayer, selfdenial, and, in many cases, fasting, by the Christian himself. The ministers, who neglect the means which they ought to use, have no reason to expect that their supposed converts will persevere: nor have any professed believers, who neglect the means appointed for them, the least right to expect that they shall be “ kept by the
power of God, through faith, unto salvation.”— Thus God knows concerning every individual how long he will live ; yet this implies the knowledge also, that each person will use, or neglect, certain means for the continuance of life. If a man's death come on him by his wilfully refusing sustenance, or by taking poison ; God foreknew this also, and took it into the account. Our Lord certainly knew the time appointed for his crucifixion : yet he used various precautions to defeat the machinations of his enemies, till his time was
come; and by these precautions the event was kept off till the appointed time.
* St. Paul tells the Romans and Galatians, that they have been justified ; and yet he gives them * rules for their conduct, the observance of which "he represents as essential to their salvation. But,
had he considered their justification as necessarily continuing; had he conceived salvation in • the next world as inevitably following justifica. tion in this; all advice would have been super· fluous : nor could he have felt or expressed any 'anxiety for the future welfare of the converts.
Nay, he speaks of“ some who, having put away ' a good conscience, concerning faith had made shipwreck.” These men must have lost that
state of justification which they once had, and - have failed of salvation.'1
This is introduced by a long note, consisting mainly of quotations from Bishop Bull and Dr. Whitby; but containing nothing materially different from the text : and, as these writers are not authority, their opinions may be passed over. St. Paul indeed says in general to the Romans, “ Therefore being justified by faith, ye have peace “ with God through our Lord Jesus Christ :"2 but surely no one will infer from this, that he considered it as infallibly certain that every professed Christian at Rome was in a justified state, at the time when he wrote this epistle! Having not been at Rome, he had no personal acquaintance with the Christians in general residing in that
Rom. v. 1.
| Ref. 136, 137. VOL. VII.
city :' but he knew that all true believers were justified; and in the judgment of charity he supposed them to be what they professed to be. He does not however say, even in this general sense, to the Galatians that they were justified: nay, he plainly tells them that “he stood in doubt “ of them."- It would have been impossible, in writing to collective bodies, to draw lines of distinction between individuals, all professing the same faith, except by distinguishing true faith from all counterfeits; and by calling on them to beware lest they deceived themselves. When they had been admitted into the church by baptism, they continued a part of it unless excommunicated. The collective body must then be addressed as believers ; and the warnings, and cautions, and calls to self-examination, sufficiently proved to them, that the apostle did not mean that they should individually take it for granted that they were, without exception, what they professed to be. But, had he spoken of their past justification, nay, of their final salvation, in as absolute and unqualified terms as he did of the preservation of all those who sailed with him, when he said, “ There shall be no loss of any man's life
· The apostle indeed sent salutations to about twenty persons by name at Rome. But some of these had been his converts when he preached in other places, or his fellow labourers, or fellow prisoners; or they were his relations, or had been his helpers ; yet they were at that time, when he wrote his epistle, at Rome. This does not then at all prove, that he was acquainted with the Christians statedly constituting the church at Rome.-Rom. xvi. 1-16.
. Gal. v, 2--5. vi. 3, 7, 8.
"! it would not at all have been superfluous to shew them by what means, and in what way, this absolute promise, or declaration, must be accomplished. For we find him presently after saying to these very persons, when the seamen would have quitted the vessel, and left the rest to their fate, “Except these abide in the ship,
ye cannot be saved.”—Probably, the apostle felt no anxiety about the event, as to the preservation of the lives of those who sailed with him, though he deemed it proper thus to caution them; for their lives were individually secured by promise. But he felt much anxiety about those whom, in the judgment of charity, he addressed as Christians : because he did not certainly know that every one of them was a true Christian, and interested in the promises, which, we suppose, secure true Christians. He loved them as children, and he was cast down at every thing which made him fear lest any of them should be found to come short of salvation. He who supposes that a belief respecting the divine decrees exempts a man from anxiety, on his own account, or that of those whom he loves, except as it induces reliance on God, and submission to his holy will, has little experimental acquaintance with the subject; and will not readily enter into the apostle's feelings, when he says, “ My little children, of whom I travail in “ birth again, till Christ be formed in you."2—As for those, who “ had made shipwreck of their “ faith,” before it is allowed that they had lost the state of justification which they once had,
Gal. iv. 15-20.
Acts xxvii. 22—24, 31.