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thod of the gospel! If any natural preferable disposition, or any improvement of nature, contribute to produce this willingness, then the doctrines, generally called Arminianism must be true, and boasting must be introduced. But if God alone produce this willingness without any help, and notwithstanding every hindrance, from man's evil nature, then the grand principles of Calvinism are established, and boasting is excluded. Do not mistake my meaning: Notions in the head do not always suitably influence the heart and conduct. Many of those who are called, and who call themselves, Arminians, are far enough from boasting, nay, are remarkably pious and humble : and too many Calvinists are haughty, dogmatical, censorious, and contentious. But a humble believer in Jesus is a brother, and entitled to our cordial love, though he cannot subscribe our whole creed.
This, however, being the real question, it contains nothing .that militates against invitations: we invite all that will to come to Christ for his salvation : and as it is not necessary to make any limitation in respect of the unwilling, who sufficiently distinguish themselves; so we give the invitation in all respects general and unencumbered.—" As many as ye "shall find bid to the marriage." My fellow sinners, if you are willing, you will apply to our merciful Saviour, and you shall find mercy and grace: but if any of you are not willing, raise no slander against him ; charge him not with unwillingness, but be sure the fault is entirely your own.-I proceed then,
V. To observe that Christ's commission reacheth to the infallible and everlasting salvation of the body and soul of every individual, who is given to him, who sees him, and believes on him. This is the Father's will which hath sent
me, that of all, which he hath given me, I should lose “ nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And “ this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which “ seeth the Son, and believeth on him, should have everlast
ing life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Indeed this unavoidably follows from all that hath been already discoursed ; and likewise from the unchangeable wisdom, faithfulness, and love of God; and from his promise, covenant, and counsel, “ confirmed with an oath : that by two immu“ table things, in which it was impossible for God to lie;
we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for “refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope
· I say, in the method of the gospel : For every man is willing to be saved from misery and to be made happy ; if it may bụt be in some way of his own, either favourable to his pride, or to his love of sin,
« we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast.”l. ( Whom he did foreknow, he did also predestinate to be con“ formed to the image of his Son. Moreover, whom he pre6. destinated them he also called : and whom he called them he “ also justified : and whom he justified them he also glorifi« ed. What shall we say then to these things? If God be “ for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his
own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not " with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifi
" Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? “ For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things “ to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, “ shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is “ in Christ Jesus cur Lord.”2 To object, that though nothing else can, our own sin may separate us from Christ, is å mere evasion ; for nothing has any tendency to separate betwixt Christ and the believer, except sin, or as any thing powerfully tempts him to sin.
In like manner Peter confirms the doctrine of his “ be“ loved brother Paul,” at the very opening of his first epistle, which begins in this manner : “ To the strangers,-elect ac“cording to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through « sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling se of the blood of Jesus-Grace unto you and peace be mul“ tiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus “ Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath be
gotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of “ Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance incorrupti" ble and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in “ heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through “ faith into salvation."3 And again, Untö you that believe “he is precious; but unto them that be disobedient, the stone « which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of " the corner; and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, “ even to them which stumble at the word being disobedient, “ whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen “ generation, à royal priesthood, an holy nation, that ye « should shew forth the praises of him, who hath called you « out of darkness into his marvellous light:4 – For God had “ not appointed them to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our « Lord Jesus Christ.”5 Thus likewise says another apostlé, ! Heb. vi. 17-19.
2 Rom, viii. 29-39. 3 1 Pet. i. 1-7. Comp. Luke xxii. 22. + 1 Pet. ii. 1-10.
5 1 Thess. v. 9.
"Of his own will, begat he us with the word of truth; that
we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures."ı And our Lord himself says, 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. My Father, who gave
greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out “of iny Father's hand. I and my Father are One.”: The only way in which Satan, or any other enemy, can endeavour to pluck the sheep out of Christ's hand, is by tempting them to wilful and final apostacy : but in this attempt every enemy must be unsuccessful, according to the obvious meaning of such express and absolute promises : and, if this conclusion may not be deduced from them, both these, and all the other numerous Scriptures, which are calculated to give a strong consolation to them who flee for refuge to Christ, not providing against this only danger, mean just nothing at all.
What, though many professors of the gospel apostatize! Who can warrant their preceding sincerity ? “ They went " out from us, because they were not of us," says one apostle.
" There must be heresies” (false teachers and false doctrines) “ that they that are approved may be made mani“ fest,” says another. But surely this is not applicable to all . who decline in their profession! Let us then suppose the persons in question not to be apostates, but backsliders. Can we positively say, this or that man dies impenitent? Such decisions belong to God, not us. Without all doubt if a professed Christian run into notorious sin, or renounce his religion, and live and die impenitent," he will perish everlast
ingly:" for he alone, “ who continueth unto the end shall " be saved." . The doctrine of final perseverance is not at all concerned in this case; for the man's apostacy is the detection of his hypocrisy: and the only question is, whether God hath not in his word engaged to preserve all real believer's from thus finally departing from him.
Except a man be truly converted, he can only persevere in open ungodliness, or in hypocrisy. Except he have scriptural evidence of his conversion he cannot warrantably conclude any thing concerning his perseverance: and if a professor of the gospel, while living in habitual sin, or in a negligent and slothful manner, encourages himself by this doctrine, he is guilty of awful presumption. But the true Christian, habitually and sincerely, abiding in Christ, and walking in all his ordinances and commandments; amidst his sharp conflicts with corruption and temptation, and his fears of future consequences, may find a most reviving cordial to I James i. 18.
• Joho x. 27-30.
refresh his drooping spirits, and renew his strength; from the assurance that Christ will make him at length more than
preserve him from every evil work unto his “heavenly kingdom.
The stony-ground hearers, however flourishing, having
no rout in themselves,” must one day wither away. The ground overgrown with thorns, the emblem of worldly professors, will “ bear no fruit to perfection.” But" they who “ receive the seed in good ground, in an honest and good • heart,” made such by diviné grace, will “ bring forth fruit o with patience.”...
- Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him," says our Lord to the woman of Samaria, meaning especially the Spirit of life and holiness, “shall
never thirst, but the water that I shall give him, shall be “ in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” It will spring up in all holy affections, and flow forth in all holy thoughts, words, and actions, until it be perfected in eternal glory.
The real Christian is generally very far from thinking he has attained perfection. As à poor sinner he still feels abundant cause for the daily exercise of repentance and faith; and he daily needs the free mercy of the Father, the precious blood of the Son, and fresh supplies of the grace of the Spirit. He has occasion for constant watchfulness and prayer: and he often wants reproof and chastisement. Seasons of slackness, and instances of transgression, he has to mourn over: and if he steps farther out of the way, his rity lies in the following promises and assurances : "As
many as the Lord loves he rebukes and chastens." “ shall be my people, and I will be their God; and I will
give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me •• for ever, for the good of them and of their children after " them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, " that I will not turn away from them to do them good, and
I will put my fear into their hearts, that they shall not dees
part from me. For in this manner the Lord brings back his offending children with weeping and supplication.--The final perseverance of all, who hold certain doctrines, relate plausible experiences, or make a credible profession, cannot be made to consist with matter of fact. But the final perseverance of the true penitent believe in Christ, who is delivered from the dominion of sin: w20 through faith in Christ hath in some degree overcome the world, and aspires after a more complete victory; who has learned to hate all sin, and delight in the law of God, and is hungering and thirsting after righteousness, is doubtless a truth of God's word. Yea,
· John iv. 14. vii, 37-39, 2 Jer, ıxxii. 38-40,
without a peradventure, the meanest, feeblest, true believer on earth shall infallibly “ be kept by the power of God,
through faith unto salvation.” " For this is the will of “ him that sent me, that of all whom he hath given me I “ should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last
And this leads me,
VI. To observe, That all this is perfectly consistent with many things, which some object to, as Arminianism. It is surprising to hear some persons, who profess themselves Calvinists, in doubt whether their principles be consistent with the government of the world by rewards and punishments, proposed as motives to the hopes and fears of mankind. Surely, if the Bible
do in any part teach those doctrines which are denominated Calvinisni, they must implicitly pervade the whole of it; and we can have no occasion to have recourse to an opposite system, in order to explain any part of the sacred volume! For what reason can any one suppose that punishment is less deserved on these principles than on the Other? The fore-knowledge, or secret purpose of God is not the effective cause, or inducing motive, of any man's rebellion, impenitence, and rejection of the gospel, and therefore cannot form an excuse for them, or render his condemnation less just. This decree neither deprives a man of any thing good, which he either possessed or merited, nor puts any evil disposition into his heart. The Lord merely determines to leave the sinner to himself ; without any efficacious, invincible, unmerited interposition, to prevent him from destroying himself by his voluntary wickedness and obstinacy. On the other hand, a man must deviate very far indeed from the whole scheme of Christianity, who supposes that the reward of' a beliering sinner is merited. Many Arminians allow as expressly, (though not perhaps quite so consistently,) as the Calvinists, that the reward is not of debt but of grace.-Fear of future punishment, yea, hope of future reward, (though blind and presumptuous,) answer, even respecting those who eventually perish, important purposes in God's Providence, exactly the same upon one scheme as upon the other. They are not etfectual for the salvation of the ungodly ; but they keep mankind in some measure of order, and prevent much wickedness : for what a world would it be, were all the wicked entirely liberated from the fear of future punishment, or wholly desperate! At the same time the Lord, in calling his Elect, and in preserving them in his ways, draws them on, and effects his purposes of love, in a considerable degree, by means of their hopes of future happiness, and their fears of future mişery,