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soul for the remnant of his days, into the hands of a faithful covenant God, that without distraction he may attend to his present duty. For the Lord takes pleasure in seeing his servants joyful in their work, though not in sin and sloth. But,
3. In what shall they persevere?
(1.) In that state of grace wherein they stand, so as not finally to perish or come short of glory, for their good Shepherd shall keep them, and "none shall pluck them out of his hand," by temptation or persecution, living or dying.-(2.) In an habitual course of holy obedience, progressively waxing stronger and stronger, and bringing forth fruit more and more even to the end. The former mainly respects their personal interests: the latter is intimately connected with the glory of God, and the credit of the gospel in the world, together with the interests of religion and the salvation of souls: the former is important; the latter vastly more so. Self-love alone may influ ence a man to desire to be saved from misery, and made eternally happy; but nothing short of divine grace, producing genuine love of God, attachment to the cause of godliness, and benevolence to the souls of men, can render us auxious about the latter. To suppose a man awakened and converted, and then returning into the world and sin, and after a long interval, perhaps of many years,
just brought back again to escape hell; and to suppose this a general and common case, and to accommodate the doctrine to it, is to make a perseverance pleasing to hypocrites, dishonourable to God, scandalous to religion, subversive of holy practice, and unsuitable to true christians, who all long to persevere to the end in increasing holiness, and dread sin as the greatest evil, and cannot bear the thoughts of dishonouring God, and being hurtful examples to others, even though they should not be sent to hell for it. A few anomalous cases we may allow of, but the general rule is, a perseverance in holiness, even to the end.
Finally; How shall this perseverance be effected?
The Lord himself will either by his continual grace uphold his people in the uniform holy walk which he requires, daily exercising " repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,' and cheerful universal obedience: or if at any time they are left to step aside, he will with-hold comfort from their souls, rebuke them by his word, chastise them with his rod, till he bring them to repentance, and lead them with weeping and supplication back into the forsaken paths of holy obedience. Did it consist with the purpose and counsel of God to leave a true christian to depart from him, and return into the world and sin, and die
impenitent, he not only might, but certainly would perish. Our security is, that God hath promised that he will put his fear into the hearts of all his true servants, that they shall not thus depart from him.
Thus stated and guarded, this doctrine may be of eminent use to the true christian, to quicken his diligence, arm him with courage, and invigorate his resolution to press forward; to be "stedfast and unmoveable, always abounding in "the work of the Lord, forasmuch as he knows "that his labour is not in vain in the Lord.” And if hypocrites will abuse it, they do it at their
ANSWER TO FERVIDUS.
Theol. Misc. 1786.
THE Questions which Fervidus proposes concerning the law of God, tend to ascertain the precise distinction betwixt the highest attainments of nature, with its utmost advantages; and the least measure of true grace under every disadvantage. The difficulty of giving an exact, perspicuous, and satisfactory solution is therefore equal to the importance of the subject. Not so much from
the nature of the subject itself, as from the statę of mind peculiar to him, for whom the solution seems chiefly wanted; namely, the feeble believer. For as has been observed in a former paper, the object to be discerned and distinguished is so minute; the discerning faculty so dim and unaccustomed to its office; and the counterfeits so plausible; that it is hardly possible to render the distinction so plain, and marked, as to give the desired satisfaction. Indeed it seems to be the Lord's purpose, that the reality of grace should ordinarily be ascertained only by increase; and, as he requires us to " press forward," and "to
give diligence to make our calling and election (6 sure;" so he seldom allows the comfortable privilege of assurance to be attained or enjoyed in any other way.
The scriptural discussion however of such subjects cannot fail of being useful in various ways; especially by cautioning persons under serious impressions, against being imposed on by Satan with a counterfeit conversion, and a destructive confidence; and by forming the judgment, encouraging the diligence, and awakening the vigilance of true converts, in their first setting out; as well as by obviating prejudices, and removing stumblingblocks. Should I therefore fail of giving full satisfaction to Fervidus, I hope some good may arise from the following observations, on a subject which has for many years exceedingly occu
pied my thoughts, and engaged my most serious attention.
There are three distinct questions proposed by Fervidus.
I. .. May not an unregenerate man know a great deal speculatively about the spirituality of the law of God?" The word speculatively is carefully to be adverted to; for both in the scriptures, and in the writings of many eminent divines on this subject, many things are spoken of the incapacity of the natural man to know spiritual things; which ought indisputably to be interpreted of spiritual knowledge; but are often explained of speculative knowledge, to the unspeakable prejudice of the cause of God. This premised, I observe, that an unregenerate man is capable of knowing speculatively or scientifically any subject in divinity, in proportion to his capacity, opportunity, or application; as well as in other sciences. Let a man of great abilities be induced by prospect of reputation, or worldly advantages; or by a fatal mistake of the "form of "knowledge" for a saving religion, to turn his studies into that channel; and with every advantage afforded, let him closely apply himself, and he will arrive at great eminence in theology as a science, as well upon the Calvinistical, or Orthodox scheme, as any other. Consequently he will be able to state more exactly, to distinguish more