« EdellinenJatka »
Time was when a Christian was by the opposition of the high priest and the troubled if he neglected closet-prayer: now rulers, Acts iv. 8, 11. The martyrs' zeal he can omit family-prayer. Time was when was increased by persecution. Here was vain thoughts did trouble him : now he is not grace of the first magnitude. troubled for loose practices. Here is a sad Quest. 6. What shall we do to grow in declension in religion; and truly grace is so grace? far from growing, that we can hardly per
Ans. 1. Take heed of that which will hin. ceive its pulse to beat.
der its growth,—the love of any sin. The 2dly. The signs of our growing in grace. body may as well thrive in a fever, as grace
Sign 1. The first sign of our growing is can when any sin is cherished. when we are got beyond our former mea- A. 2. Use all means for growth in grace. sures of grace: a sign a child thrives, when | 1st, “ Exercise yourselves to godliness,” 1 he hath outgrown his clothes, his clothes are Tim. iv. 7. The body grows stronger by extoo little for him. That knowledge which ercise. Trading of money makes men grow would serve us before, will not serve us now, rich; the more we trade our faith in the pro-We have a deeper insight into religion, mises, the richer in faith we grow. 2dly, If our light is clearer,-our spark of love is in- you would be growing Christians, be humble creased into a flame: there is a sign of growth. Christians. It is observed in some countries, That competency of grace we once had, is too (as in France, the best and largest grapes, scanty for us; we have outgrown ourselves. which they make their wine of, grow on the
Sign 2. When we are more firmly rooted lower sort of vines; the humble saints grow in religion, Col. ii. 7, Rooted in him, and es- most in grace, 1 Pet. v.5,“ God giveth grace to tablished: the spreading of the root shows the humble.” 3dly, Pray to God for spiritual the growth of the tree. When we are so growth. Some pray that they may grow in strongly fastened on Christ, that we cannot gifts. It is better to grow in grace than be blown down with the breath of heretics, a gifts; gifts are for ornament, grace is for blessed sign of growth. Athanasius was call-nourishment,—to edify others, to save oured Adamus ecclesiæ, an adamant that could selves. Some pray that they may grow rich, not be removed from the love of the truth. but a fruitful heart is better than a full
Sign 3. The third sign of growth: when purse. Pray that God would make you grow we have a more spiritual frame of heart. in grace, though it be by affliction, Heb. xii. 1st, We are more spiritual in our principles ; | 10. The vine grows by pruning. God's we oppose sin out of love to God, and as it pruning-knife is to make us grow more strikes at his holiness. 2dly, We are more grace. spiritual in our affections; we grieve for the Quest. 7. How may we comfort such as first rising of corruption, for the bubbling up complain they do not grow in grace? of vain thoughts, the spring that runs under Ans. They may mistake; they may grow, ground. We mourn not only for the penalty when they think they do not, Prov. xiii. 7, of sin, but the pollution; it is not only a coal
“There is that maketh himself poor, yet that burns, but blacks. 3dly, We are spiri- he is rich.” The sight Christians have of tual in the performance of duty ; we are more their defects in grace, and their thirst after serious, reverent, fervent; we have more life greater measures of grace, makes them think in prayer, we put fire to the sacrifice, Rom. they do not grow when they do. He who xii. “Fervent in spirit.” We serve God covets a great estate, because he hath not with more love, which ripens and mellows so much as he desires, therefore he thinks our duty, and makes it come off with a bet- himself to be poor. Indeed Christians ter relish.
should seek after the grace they want, but Sign 4. The fourth sign of growth: when they must not therefore overlook the grace grace gets ground by opposition. The fire, they have.
Let Christians be thankful for by an antiperistasis, burns hottest in the the least growth; if you do not grow so coldest season.
Peter's courage increased much in assurance, bless God if you grow in sincerity; if you do not grow so much a true growth; if you grow in the rootin knowledge, bless God if you grow in grace of humility, it is as needful for you as humility. If a tree grows in the root, it is any other growth.
1 Pet. i. 5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. The fifth and last fruit of sanctification is and they may make a great breach upon
their perseverance in grace. The heavenly in- sanctification. Grace may be moritura, non heritance is kept for the saints, 1 Pet. i. 4; mortua,-dying, but not dead,' Rev. iii. 2, and they are kept to the inheritance; in my "Strengthen the things which are ready to text, “Who are kept by the power of God die.” Grace may be like fire in the embers: through faith unto salvation.” The apostle though not quenched, yet the flame is gone asserts a saint's stability and permanency in out. This decay of grace I shall show in two grace. The saints' perseverance is much particulars. 1. The lively actings of grace oppugned by Papists and Arminians; but it may be suspended, Rev. ii. 4,“ Thou hast left is not the less true because it is opposed. A thy first love.” Grace may be like a sleepy Christian's main comfort depends upon this habit; the godly may act faintly in religion, doctrine of perseverance; take away this, the pulse of their affections may beat low. and you much prejudice religion, and cut the The wise virgins slumbered, Mat. xxv.5. The sinews of all cheerful endeavours. Before I exercise of grace may be hindered; as when come to the full handling and discussing this the course of water is stopped, and doth not great point, let me first clear the sense of it, run. 2. Instead of grace exercising in the which I shall do by way of concession or grant. godly, corruption may exercise-instead of
When I say, believers do persevere: 1st, 1 patience, murmuring,-instead of heavenligrant that such as are so only in profession, ness, earthliness. How did pride put forth may fall away, 2 Tim. iv. 10, “Demas hath itself in the disciples when they strove who forsaken me.” Blazing comets soon evapo- should be the greatest! How did lust put forth rate. A building on sand will fall, Mat. vii. itself in David! Thus lively and vigorous may 26, Seeming grace may be lost. No wonder corruption be in the regenerate; they may fall to see a bough fall from a tree that is only into enormous sins. But though all this be tied on! Hypocrites are only tied on Christ granted, yet they do not, penitus exeidere, by an external profession, they are not in- fall away finally from grace. David did not grafted. Who ever thought artificial mo- quite lose his grace; for then, why did he tions would hold long? The hypocrite's pray, “ Take not away thy Holy Spirit from motion is only artificial, not vital. All blos- me?" He had not quite lost the Spirit. As soms do not ripen into fruit.
Eutychus, when he fell from a window, Acts 2dly, I grant that, if believers were left to xx., and all thought he was dead: No, saith stand upon their own legs, they might fall Paul, “ his life is in him.” So David fell finally. Some of the angels, who were stars foully, but there was the life of grace in full of light and glory, yet did actually lose him. Though the saints may come to that their grace; and if those pure angels fell pass, they have but little faith, yet not to from grace, much more would the godly, have no faith; though their grace may be who have so much sin to betray them, if drawn low, yet not drawn dry; though they were not upheld by a superior power. grace may be abated, not abolished; though
3dly, I grant, true believers, though they the wise virgins slumbered, yet their lamps do not fall away actually, and lose all their were not quite gone out. Grace, when it grace, yet their grace may fail in the degree, is at the lowest, shall revive and flourish;
as when Samson had lost his strength, his Conserva illos --Father, “ keep those whom hair grew again, and he renewed his strength. thou hast given me,”_keep them as the stars Having thus explained the proposition, I in their orbs,—keep them as jewels, that they come now to the amplifying this great doc- may not be lost. “ Father keep them.” That trine of the saints' perseverance.
prayer Christ made for Peter, was the copy of Quest. 1. By what means do Christians his prayer he now makes for believers, Luke come to persevere?
xxii. 32, “I have prayed for thee, that thy Ans. 1. By the manuduction and help of faith fail not,” that it be not totally eclipsed; ordinances, prayer, word, sacraments. Chris- how can the children of such prayers perish? tians do not arrive at perseverance when Quest. 2. By what arguments may we they sit still and do nothing. It is not with prove the saints' perseverance ? us as with passengers in a ship, who are car- Ans. 1. A veritate Dei, from the truth ried to the end of their voyage, and they sit of God.' God hath both asserted it, and prostill in the ship; or, as it is with noblemen, mised it: 1. God hath asserted it, 1 John ii. who have their rents brought in without their 9, “ His seed remaineth in him.” 1 John ii. toil or labour; but we arrive at salvation in 27, “The anointing ye have received of him the use of means,-as a man comes to the abideth in you.”--2. As God hath asserted end of a race by running,—to a victory by it, so he hath promised it: the truth of God, fighting, Matt. xxvi. 41, “ Watch and pray.” the most orient pearl of his crown, is laid a As Paul said, Acts xxvii. 31, “Except ye pawn in the promise, John X. 28, “I will abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.” Be- give unto them eternal life, and they shall lievers shall come to shore at last,--arrive at never perish.” Jer. xxxii. 40, “I will make heaven; but “except they abide in the ship,” an everlasting covenant with them, that I viz. in the use of ordinances, “they cannot will not turn away from them to do them be saved." The ordinances cherish grace; good, but I will put my fear in their hearts, as they beget grace, so they are the breast- that they shall not depart from me.” God milk by which it is nourished and preserved will so love his people that he will not forto eternity.
sake them; and they shall so fear him, that A. 2. Auxilio spiritus,—by the sacred in they shall not forsake him. If a believer fluence and concurrence of the Spirit. The should not persevere, God should break his Spirit of God is continually at work in the promise, Hos. ii. 19, “I will betroth thee heart of a believer to carry on grace to per- unto me for ever, in righteousness and lovingseverance; it drops in fresh oil to keep the kindness.” God doth not marry his people lanıp of grace burning. The Spirit excites, ( unto himself, and then divorce them; he strengthens, increaseth grace, and makes a hates putting away, Mal. ii. 16. God's love Christian go from one step of faith to another, ties the marriage-knot so fast that neither till he comes to the end of his faith, salva- death nor hell can break it asunder. tion, 1 Pet. i. 9. It is a fine expression of 2. The second argument is, a potentia Dei, the apostle, 2 Tim. i. 14, “ The Holy Ghost from the power of God. which dwelleth in us." He who dwells in a “ are kept by the power of God unto salvahouse, keeps the house in repair: the Spirit tion.” Every person in the Trinity hath a dwelling in a believer, keeps grace in repair. hand in making a believer persevere. God Grace is compared to a river of the water of the Father establisheth, 1 Cor. i. 21. God life, John vii. 38. This river can never be the Son confirms, 1 Cor. i. 8. God the Holy dried up, because God's Spirit is a spring Ghost seals, Eph. i. 13; so that it is the which continually feeds it.
of God that keeps us. Alas, we are A. 3. Grace is carried on to perseverance, not kept by our own power! The Pelagians by Christ's daily intercession. As the Spirit held, that man, by his own power, might is at work in the heart, so is Christ at work overcome temptation and persevere. But St in heaven. Christ is ever praying that the Austin confutes them. “Man,” saith he, saint's grace may hold out, John xvii. 11,“ prays unto God for perseverance, which
In the text, we
would be absurd, if he had power of himself lose any member of his body mystical, and
mundum,-from a believer's victory over 3. The third argument is taken ab elec- the world. The argument stands thus : He tione,—from God's electing love. Such as who overcomes the world, doth persevere in God hath from all eternity elected to glory grace; but a believer doth overcome the cannot fall away finally; but every true be- world, therefore he perseveres in grace, liever is elected to glory, therefore he cannot 1 John v. 4, “ This is the victory that over
What can frustrate election, or cometh the world, even our faith.” A man make God's decree void? This argument may lose a single battle in the field, yet at stands like Mount Sion, which cannot be last win the victory. A child of God may moved; insomuch that some of the Papists be foiled in a single battle against temptahold, that those who have absolute election tion (as Peter was) but at last he is victoricannot fall away, 2 Tim. ji. 19, “The founda- ous. Now, if a saint be crowned victor,-if tion of God standeth sure, having this seal, the world be conquered by him,-he must The Lord knoweth them that are his.” The needs persevere. I come next to answer foundation of God is nothing else but God's some objections of the Arminians. decree in election, and this stands sure, God 1st, The first objection of Arminians, is, will not alter it, others cannot.
If a believer shall persevere in grace, then, 4. The fourth argument is taken, ab unione to what purpose are all those admonitions cum Christo,-from believers' union with in scripture ? “ Let him take heed lest he Christ. They are knit to Christ, as the fall,” 1 Cor. x. 12. And Heb. iv. 1, “ Let us members to the head, by the nerves and liga- fear, lest any of you seem to come short.” ments of faith, so that they cannot be broken These admonitions seem to be superfluous off, Eph. iii. What was once said of Christ's and vain, if a saint shall certainly pernatural body, is true of his mystical.
"A severe. bone of it shall not be broken.” As it is not Ans. No, these counsels and admonitions possible to sever the leaven and the dough are necessary to caution believers against when they are once mingled and kneaded carelessness; they are as goads and spurs together, so it is impossible, when Christ to quicken them to a greater diligence in and believers are once united, ever to be working out their salvation. These admoseparated: Christ and his members make nitions do not imply the saints can fall one body. Now, is it possible that any part away, but they are preservatives to keep of Christ should perish? How can Christ them from falling away. Christ told some
of his disciples, they should abide in him, yet may have a kind of taste of the sweetness he exhorts them to abide in him, John xv. of religion, but his taste doth not nourish. His exhorting them was not in the least to There is a great deal of difference between question their abiding in him, but to awaken one that takes a gargle and a cordial : the their diligence, and make them pray the gargle only washeth his mouth, -he tastes it, harder that they might abide in him. and puts it out again,--but a cordial is drunk
2dly, The second objection is, Heb. vi. 4, down which nourisheth and cherisheth the " It is impossible for those who were once spirits. The hypocrite, who hath only some enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly smack or taste of religion (as one tastes a gift, and were made partakers of the Holy gargle), may fall away. 4. And have felt Ghost, and have tasted the good work of the powers of the world to come:" that is, God and the powers of the world to come, if they may have such apprehensions of the they shall fall away, to renew them again glory of heaven, as to be affected with it, unto repentance.”
and seem to have some joy in the thoughts Ans. This place of scripture hath no force of it, yet fall away: as in the parable of the in it, for the apostle here speaks of hypocrites. stony ground, Matt. xiii. 20. All this is He shows how far they may go, yet fall spoken of the hypocrite; but it doth not away. 1. “ They who were once enlighten- therefore prove, that the true believer, who ed :" Men may have great illuminations, yet is effectually wrought upon, can fall away. fall away. Was not Judas enlightened? 2. Though meteors fall, it doth not therefore They have been made “partakers of the follow, that true stars fall. That this scripHoly Ghost,”—the common gifts of the Spi- ture speaks not of sound believers, is clear rit, not the special grace.
3. They have from ver. 9, But we are persuaded better “ tasted the good word of God.” Tasting things of you, and things that accompany here is opposed to eating ; the hypocrite salvation.”
1 Pet. i. 5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Use 1st. See the excellency of grace, it voice, and I know them, and they follow me: perseveres : other things are but for a season, and I give unto them eternal life.” --health and riches are sweet, but they are sheep,” there is election ; “ hear my voice," but for a season,—but grace is a blossom of there is vocation ; " and I know them,” eternity. The seed of God remains, 1 John there is justification ; “and I give unto them iii. 9. Grace may suffer an eclipse, not a eternal life," there is glorification, How dissolution. It is called substance, for its may this make us love God, and set up the solidity, Prov. viii. 21 ; and durable riches, monuments and trophies of his praise ! How for its permanency, Prov. viii. 18. It lasts much have we done to cause God to withas long as the soul,
,—as heaven lasts. Grace draw his Spirit, and suffer us to fall finally! is not like a lease which soon expires, but it yet that he should keep us, let his name runs parallel with eternity.
be blessed, and his memorial eternized, who Branch 2. See here that which may excite keepeth the feet of his saints, 1 Sam, ii. 9. in the saints everlasting love and gratitude to
Branch 3. See whence it is that saints do God. What can make us love God more persevere in holiness : it is solely to be than the fixedness of his love to us? He is ascribed to the power of God. We are kept not only the author of grace, but finisher; by his power,-kept as in a garrison. It his love is perpetuated and carried on to our is a wonder any Christian perseveres, if you salvation, John x. 27, “ My sheep hear my consider,-1. Corruption within. The tares