Obrazy na stronie


[ocr errors]

a law in their members warring against the law of their mind, so that they, with their ment, serve the law of sin. They delight in the law of God after the inward man; sin becomes their greatest enemy, and when they see it in themselves, they loathe themselves and repent in dust and ashes; and cry out with the apostle, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death !" True believers are not free from sin and temptations. They sometimes fall into great crimes. But God usually brings them into deep humility and unfeigned repentance for their transgressions; as we see in the case of David, Peter, and many other ancient saints; but every one who is created anew in Christ Jesus, is created unto good works; and let any one make ever so high professions of religion, if he does not bring forth fruits meet for repentance, we have no evidence that he is a child of God: “ by their fruits ye shall know them.” This great change of heart and life, consists in having the affections of mankind taken from self, and placed on God; so that they delight in the Divine character, independent of expected good to themselves.

Lorenzo. It is not possible, in the nature of things, that infants should be capable of those exercises, which you suppose absolutely necessary for salvation, and of course, all who die in infancy, agreeable to your sentiments, are inevitably lost.

Evander. Infants are men in miniature, and possess the same faculties as men, only in a very small degree. If they are not men in miniature, I will thank you to inform me at what period they are. If infants possess all the faculties of men, however small the degree, then God can as easily regenerate them, and change their natures, as he can an adult. It appears, from the Scriptures, that he often does it. Sa-, muel, Jeremiah, and John the Baptist are particularly mentioned ; and we read, that “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise."

Lorenzo. It appears evident, from the Scriptures, that real Christians may fall from grace; which, if fact, will totally destroy your idea of special grace on a certain number only.

Evander. I will thank you to quote those passages of Scripture, which you suppose establish the possibility of true believers falling from a state of holiness, so as finally to fail of salvation.

Lorenzo. I consider the doctrine very fully taught. The apostle speaks in positive language to some of the church : “ Ye are fallen from grace;" “if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him;" “ holding faith and good conscience, which some having put away, concerning faith, have made shipwreck;" " when a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in

them, for his iniquity that he hath done, shall he die.” And every command to watch and pray, and be steadfast, implies, that there is not only a possibility, but even great danger of Christians finally falling away to everlasting destruction.

· Evander. I readily acknowledge, if there were no other

passages of Scripture on the subject, except those you have quoted, I should say these imply the doctrine, but not positively declare it. We must compare Scripture with Scripture, and not take passages unconnected; if we do, contradictions will appear; but one passage that you have quoted is positive to the point, as it appears without the connection. The whole passage stands thus, “ Christ is become of none effect unto you; whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace;" so that none are represented as fallen from grace, except those who were justified by the law; but by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified. His meaning is very plain. They had fallen from the plan of grace, to wit, justification by Christ, and depended on the deeds of the law for justification. Such put away faith in Christ's atoning merits, and make shipwreck of it; they go about to establish their own righteousness, which is like filthy rags. This was not only the proceedings of nominal Christians, in the apostle's day, but is in our day. I do by no means deny, that many receive the But the apos


word with joy, who have no root in them, and finally draw back unto perdition. But the tle is explicit on the subject, when addressing those who had obtained like precious faith : " but we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” When God has deterinined an event, he has fixed the means to accomplish it, and it is his usual method to enjoin the fulfilment of the means necessary to accomplish the end. Our blessed Lord informed his disciples, that they should sit on twelve thrones, in his kingdom of glory, judging the twelve tribes of Israel ; and that their names were written in heaven; so that they were sure of salvation. He then enjoined perseverance in every good word and work, as a necessary means to accomplish this end. The angel of the Lord stood by Paul at the time of his shipwreck, and positively told him, that not a life in the ship should be lost; but when some of the sailors were about to escape, whose service was wanted to manage the ship, Paul says, "except these abide in the ship ye cannot be saved.” So that if a righteous man should forsake his righteousness, and sin wilfully, there would remain no more sacrifice for sin ; “ for it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if these

should fall away to renew them again to repentance." But it no more follows that the righteous do forsake their righteousness, because the consequence is pointed out if they should, than that an angel from heaven will be accursed for preaching a new gospel; as the consequence is pointed out if he should. The apostle says, if an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed.” As I find many passages of Scripture, directly in favour of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and none absolutely against it, I feel myself bound to believe it.

Lorenzo. I will thank you to quote those passages.

Evander. It is evident, from the Scriptures, that Christ has a church, which he has.purchased with his own precious blood; and it is his own property, and nothing shall separate it from his love; neither tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword; neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, or any other creature.” Our blessed Lord says, “ all that the Father giveth me shall come to

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen and ordained you, that ye go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain." “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eter


« PoprzedniaDalej »