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ihat we must have the faith which works by love, and purifies the heart—that we must press on to the perfection of love, and be saved from all sin, properly so called. Now if a soul attain to justification, if the doctrine of infallible perseverance be true, he is safe. His being cautioned against falling, cannot endanger his salvation. But if that doctrine should prove false, and yet the justified believer should cease to persevere, the consequence is fàtal. It is not, however, hereby granted, that there are five probabilities in favour of your doctrine to one in favour of ours. This instance is produced to shew the dangerous tendency of your system.
10. But this is not all. It also 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 endureBe 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 be in you and abound. We have also a great many cautions, Quench nat the Spirit—Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living GodLest any man fall after the same example of unbelief-Repent, and do your first works, else I will fight against you with the sword of my mouth. If there be no possibility of final apostacy, all these conditions, to the performers of which the promise is made; and all these cautions are entirely useless:
And a doctrine which nulifies so great part of the Bible cannot be scriptural. Such are some of the unhappy consequences which result from your doctrine of unconditional perseverance; and taken together they are sufficient to awaken a suspicion in the mind respecting their truth. While the believer is thus cautioned against apostacy, he is also encouraged to persevere in the path of obedience by the promises of an eternal inheritance. So far from leaving him in the dreary wilderness of sin, and in the disconsolate maze of doubts and fears, darkness and unbelief, he is prompted to go forth into the land flowing with milk and honey, where faith is in luminous exercise, where holy filial fear operates as a check to presumption, where the light of God's countenance dissipates the clouds of darkness, and where the soul delightfully ranges from field to field, feeding in the rich pastures of redeeming love. “ The path of the just is as a shining light, shining more and more to the perfect day.” To the believing soul we say, Press on to the fulness of perfect love to the doubting, Hold fast whereunto ye have attained, watch and pray until Christ speaks to your souls in accents of love--to the penitent, He that cometh to Christ, shall not be cast out-all things are possible to him that believeth. Believe therefore in his power and goodness to save you now-to the halting backslider, Return, ye backsliding children, and the Lord will lov you freely, and heal all your backslidings-to the impenitent sinner, Repent and believe in Jesus Christ, and
thou shalt be saved; for he that believeth not shall be damned. Is not this scriptural doctrine suited to every character, and full of comfort to believers, as well as terror to unbelievers ?
11. P. 125. This doctrine is of use to excite the unbelieving world to pay attention to gospel invitations. We find it applied to this use in the 55th chapter of Isaiah. Were you afraid to quote this passage lest your readers should differ from you respecting its import? “Hearken diligently unto me,” saith the Lord by the Prophet, “and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear,
and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." It is somewhat extraordinary that a text which hath no less than six conditions expressed in it, should be produced to prove an unconditional perseverance to eternal life! On the latter part of this text I have before made some remarks, see p. 231, of this work. In addition to what is there said, it may be observed, that those with whom the Lord promised to make an everlasting covenant, are 1. To hearken diligently—2. To eat that which is good. Is committing adultery as David did, worshipping idols as did Solomon, making shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, as did Hymenus and Philetus, loving this present world, as Demas, and feeding on indwelling sin, as you say all believers do, is this eating that which is good? 3. Let your soul delight itself in fatness-
Do you suppose the prophet meant that they could not forfeit the sure mercies of David 6 even by their own folly ?" (p. 187.) Is backsliding from God, the fatness which the prophet called upon the people to delight in ? Indeed, the text under consideration is as full a confutation of your unscriptural doctrine, as is to be found in all the Bible. But perhaps you think that because the covenant is called an everlasting covenant, your doctrine is contained in it. This, however, does not follow. For we read in Isa. xxv. 5. "The earth also is defiled with the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, broken the everlasting covenant." So that a covenant being called everlasting, does not necessarily suppose that its blessings may not be forfeited, by not fulfilling its conditions. The covenant of grace remains immutably the same, through all the vicissitudes of human frailty; but if human, responsible agents refuse to comply with its invariable conditions, they must not expect to enjoy its promised blessings. On the whole, we may safely conclude that your doctrine of infallible and unconditional perseverance, hath no foundation in scripture.
12. “ No foundation in scripture !" do you say66 Does not the scripture say, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And
I give unto them eternal life ; and they shall never * perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my
hand." True-But do you suppose this text proves unconditional perseverance? You might as
well undertake to prove transubstantiation, because Christ said, I am the bread of life, as to prove your doctrine of infallible perseverance from the above words. Mark the conditions on which eternal life is promised.' 1. They hear my voice. For not complying with this condition, the disobedient are threatened with everlasting destruction—I have called, but ye have refused. 2. I know them, that is, I approve of them, because they hear my voice, and prepare to follow me. Having hearkened to the voice of Christ, and prepared themselves, like sol. diers who attend to the command of their general, and appear upon the field in full uniform, when inspected they are approved. Then, in the third . place, They follow me.
But we read of some, who, when our Lord preached his self-denying doctrine to them, forsook him, and no longer followed him, insomuch that Jesus turned to his Apostles and said, Will ye also go away? To follow Jesus Christ, it is necessary to take up the cross daily, and persevere to the end of life in well-doing. To such as do this, Christ makes the promise of eternal
. But if Christ gives them eternal life, how can it be lost ? Can that which is eternal, perish !" No, no more than gold can perish. But because you have a piece of gold, which is imperishable in its nature, does it follow that you cannot lose it? By no
You may dispossess yourself of it, although it is still in existence somewhere. To know God is said to be eternal life. And yet we read